North Wagga's flood recovery and community spirit are the subject of Jenny Woods' doctoral research

BANDING TOGETHER: Jenny Woods is hoping to share the resilience of North Wagga in times of flood through her research as a social worker. Picture: Les Smith

BANDING TOGETHER: Jenny Woods is hoping to share the resilience of North Wagga in times of flood through her research as a social worker. Picture: Les Smith

The community spirit shown by North Wagga residents in the face of flooding is now the subject of a home-grown doctorate.

Charles Sturt University PhD student Jenny Woods lives in North Wagga and remembers how everyone pulled together after the last major flood in 2012.

“It was a good experience out of the worst of times,” Ms Woods said.

“I’m only fairly new and the old-timers embraced me, one guy told his insurance company he didn’t want his house fixed until all the families got theirs done.

“It was touching, it’s like a big extended family.”

The 2012 flood has been on residents’ minds for more than a month with heavy rains in early spring pushing the Murrumbidgee River into flood. Thankfully, the levees held and the waters have started to recede.

“We’re prepared and in good spirits,” Ms Woods said.

“The dams are still pretty full but it’s fair to say we’re working towards maintaining a level of preparedness.

“It’s our major recovery feature.”

The resilience of North Wagga is something Ms Woods, a social worker, hopes she can share through her research.

“We live in an environment where you can’t avoid the impact of natural disasters,” Ms Woods said.

“The vast majority of people will, at one time or another, be impacted by a natural disaster.

“We can show the world how we made a spectacular show of it and how we got through it.”

There are some in the community who have been through five previous floods, Ms Woods said, but they wouldn’t live anywhere else. Indeed, the motto “we shall not be moved” is proudly displayed beneath the North Wagga signs when you drive into town.

In 2012, State Emergency Service Murrumbidgee region controller James McTavish said there was a strong community spirit in North Wagga, in the way residents helped each other out.

Ms Woods said ‘community spirit’ was a bit of a subjective term, but she hoped to find how it helped her community recover from flooding. Hopefully, she said, the lessons learned could be transferred to other places going through natural disasters.

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