” Sorry, we dont stock that line since….the flood”
“They’re not here anymore but have moved out of town..to Goonellabah (the hill above the town)”
This was a frequent refrain from residents of Lismore, the Northern Rivers town which suffered major flooding in March 2017. It’s only a little over six months since it happened and there is a feeling of rawness and vulnerability in this previously prosperous and vibrant town.
As I walked down the main street for the first time since the flood I realised how much the town had changed. I passed by a number of empty shops though the main businesses and organisations remained. But the sense of prosperity and confidence I had felt in the past had evaporated.
And then the insurance companies have been doing their best to distinguish between stormwater and flood damage, causing despair for those 2 per cent of businesses who were insured (ww.smh.com.au/nsw/water-gone-but-the-flood-aftermath-sticks-to-lismore-20170825-gy4454.html)
Reminders of the last flood are poignantly placed to give a sense of the power of the deluvian tragedy. Visiting the local library I saw this sign as I climbed the stairs
The semi-tropical region on the north coast of New South Wales is usually a vibrant green due to the high rainfall and this year, due to the floods is even more beautifully verdant.
Of course some creatures, like the very ugly and poisonous cane toad thrive in such conditions.
As painful and tragic as the floods have been for the local community, healing has started. The University Centre for Rural Health has commenced a study of the impact of the floods inviting every member of the community to participate. Hopefully, this lovely community can start to evolve from despair and anger to even greater power and resilience.