A state of natural disaster has been declared for the Cessnock and Maitland local government areas following the recent severe weather and flooding. Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Taylor Martin said the natural disaster declaration means that funding and support is available. "This means assistance is available to people whose homes or essential household items have been destroyed or damaged, and for business owners and primary producers who have suffered direct damage," Mr Martin said. "Assistance is also available to Cessnock and Maitland councils to restore essential public assets like local roads." READ MORE: Mr Martin urges any local homeowner, business owner or primary producer that suffered direct damage from either flooding or severe weather since February 22 to apply for the funding and support which is now on offer. Assistance is being provided through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA). Assistance available under the DRFA for the Hunter may include: - Help for eligible people whose homes or belongings have been damaged (eligibility criteria apply); - Support for affected local councils to help with the costs of cleaning up and restoring damaged essential public assets; - Concessional interest rate loans for small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations; and - Freight subsidies for primary producers. For more information, go to: www.service.nsw.gov.au/floods.