An image of a NSW police car has sparked outrage as residents in northern NSW beg for help in the wake of devastating floods.
The photo, taken by The Australian journalist Liam Mendes just outside the NSW town of Mullumbimby, depicts a highway patrol officer sitting in a car with a speed gun, according to the publication.
Thread: Heading towards one of the worst-hit areas in northern NSW, I spot a cop with a speed gun.
Just 30 mins away, residents are trapped inside their communities.
They say they’ve had no assistance from emergency services and are relying on helis and volunteers. pic.twitter.com/6uqIDzMx6O
— Liam Mendes (@liammendes) March 5, 2022
It comes as the town has been left without power, fuel or running water, as well as severely limited communication due to recent flooding.
Locals have taken to social media to ask for help from the army and other government services as roads blocked by mud and downed trees trap residents in the town.
“To the Government Services: We need you to rescue people still trapped and missing… houses in landslides, roads turned into rivers, people trapped in mountain areas with no power, food or capacity to escape,” one woman from Mullumbimby wrote on Saturday.
“We need you to pass uncrossable roads, to rescue people, then start the road clean up and longer term recovery.
“The locals are alone doing it themselves.
“Some of my friends in the mountains are running out of clean water and have no food. Power generators provide an hour of time to access [the] internet and communicate.”
Another post circulating on social media read: “There are landslides, and regular people trying to scale cliffs to rescue pregnant people, babies and families.
“We need the army, we need police, we need services.
“There’s still no phone reception and no one knows the full depth of what’s going on here … it’s apocalyptic.”
Just went to donation center in #mullumbimby – region is running out of petrol, no internet + mullum has run out of water. They need help on ground with delivering goods. Still need clean mattresses, bottled water. This relief effort has been run by the community. #NSWFloods pic.twitter.com/P7k5lJrrXz
— Mia Forrest (@miaforrestphoto) March 2, 2022
After Mendes’ photo emerged online, many shared their fury on social media and questioned why police were checking speeds while nearby residents needed help.
“If you’re asking me, ‘Protect and Serve’ shouldn’t mean ‘fine people speeding whilst residents of said town are suffering’,” one man tweeted in response to the photo.
“There’s far more important matters over revenue raising in that area and it’s so obvious the police and Government do not care.”
“That is seriously f****d up,” another wrote.
“People rushing to help people in danger and the [government] wants to make money out of it.”
A third person shared their own encounter with police as they delivered supplies to family members.
“I drove into Ballina… to drop supplies to two boats going upstream to my relatives cut off in Empire Vale,” they wrote.
“Surreal to drive past police pointing speed cameras at me on the way down.”
According to The Australian, emergency services were yet to arrive after a landslide cut off the road to Main Arm and Wilsons Creek, two localities within 10 minutes of Mullumbimby.
“It’s an appalling use of public resources in the middle of a crisis,” local Saul Fitton told the publication.
Meanwhile, NSW Police told Yahoo Australia that hundreds of officers had been deployed across the region, and that part of their efforts included keeping people safe on the roads.
“Motorists need to drive to the conditions to avoid any unexpected hazards due to the weather conditions and abide by road rules for their own safety and the safety of other road users,” a spokesperson said.
Five thousand ADF personnel are due to be deployed to clean up northern NSW, with 900 arriving on Monday and another thousand deployed next week, per AAP.
Images: @liammendes (Twitter)
This article first appeared on OverSixty.