Lismore’s unprecedented flooding in late February of this year has seen over 1,300 locals living in emergency accommodation and less than 20% of small and larger businesses back in operation.
In the dark early hours of the late February morning when the relentless rain hit, flash flooding saw many houses both in and out of the flood zones destroyed by record rates of water level rises.
One family of 4 children who were living just out of town and out of the dedicated flood zone saw water levels rise to chest height within 40 minutes. Donna Swan told AFIPN they were fortunate to escape the devastation by cutting a hole in their back fence and escaping to higher ground while watching everything they possessed get washed away.
Upon moving back into their home Donna states she saw no help what’s so ever from the government after the event but was extremely grateful and encouraged upon receiving an abundance of help from both neighbours and the community at large. “One day we were cleaning up and there was a knock at the door and 11 people just came in and helped us clean up all day’
Donna states she received hot meals, furniture, food, money, clothing, and toys for her children all from volunteers who just saw the need and pitched in to help.
Many families affected by the floods share stories where the community has come together to lend a hand but sadly this has not been the story in regards to government assistance.
Resilience NSW has confirmed that there are still over 1,300 locals in emergency accommodation across the Northern Rivers area. Lismore City Council has now proposed a $400 million land swap enabling people to move from flood-prone areas to higher ground. This has been met with a mixed response as many locals have a history and a love for their hometown.
Lismore’s Mayor Steven Krieg sadly had both his home and business flooded and believes people ‘smarter than him’ should be making the big decisions on how to make the land-swap work as he states ‘what’s more expensive than continually rebuilding by doing the same things over and over, we’ve got to do things differently this time around’
Lismore council estimates 250 shops are now open across the CBD and the industrial estate of South Lismore but travelling through the main streets that’s hard to believe as all but a few cafes and a handful of shops are operating.
Adrian Katschke, a retired insurance broker has been non-stop working on re-fittng his two shops. ‘One tenant had just moved in, and the ice-cream chain that was renting this kerb-side space wasn’t returning. We sadly lost our tenant. It’s been a major horrendous event and it certainly has traumatised lots of us’
The community of Lismore is however a strong and courageous bunch with flags and symbols of love plastered around town, a community determined to stand strong. Travelling through town quite apparent the quirky and colourful Northern Rivers town will live come back brighter than ever.