During the early hours of Monday 28th February, an unprecedented weather event was taking place over the east coast of Australia. As the deluge pelted down on Lismore in northern NSW, pleas for rescues started streaming in on social media. People were trapped on their roofs in rising flood waters. Families with young children, pregnant women, the elderly, those with their beloved animals and pets, all risking their lives by climbing onto their roofs in the dark, freezing cold rain to sit and wait for help.
Emergency calls to the SES and 000 were going unanswered. For those who did manage to make contact, the response was stark. Simply, no rescues would be conducted until daylight resumed. This left only brave local residents with their tinnies and jet skis to start the dangerous task themselves in the dark.
By first light the scale of devastation became clear- the river had swallowed the entire Lismore basin. Homes and businesses that were previously not considered to be in the flood zone had water to their ceilings. Boats streamed down Ballina Rd which was now a river. Rescue after rescue of people in shock. People who had just lost everything.
In the week that followed as the waters receded and the clean up began, thousands of homes in Lismore were deemed uninhabitable or condemned. Almost an entire town in ruins, displaced with nowhere to go. Very few people had flood insurance here.
Thick, stinking flood mud, drenching homes and everything inside them. Residents left with no choice but to throw out their entire belongings onto the footpath and allow their homes to be gutted so they could dry and prevent the rapid growth of mould.
The catastrophic flood in February was a record breaking event that no one in Lismore could have foreseen. The forecasts were wrong and previous flood plans became redundant.
Lismore is a town that has always flooded and in turn has been built to deal with flooding, but this one was unprecedented. This one was a monster.
Bonnie Aungle in her home she shares with her partner in Lismore, the house which was built in the 1800s shifted sideways in the flood. They were priced out of the nearby town Mullumbimby and didn’t want to live in a flood zone but it was all they could afford, along with many other residents in Lismore. Hundreds of homes have been condemned in the flood affected town of Lismore leaving thousands of residents displaced and without a home.
Clean up continues in South Lismore after severe flooding hits Lismore in northern NSW in the worst flood ever recorded. South Lismore residents Adam and Naomi McGowen lost everything from the flood.
Water levels are dropping and clean up has begun on Dawson Street after severe flooding hits Lismore in northern NSW in the worst flood ever recorded.
Vintage collector Simon Robinson lost hundreds of collectibles from his home and business both located in Lismore. Hundreds of homes have been condemned in the flood affected town of Lismore leaving thousands of residents displaced and without a home
Local artist Antoinette O’Brien in her studio and home in South Lismore that has now become condemned. Hundreds of homes have been condemned in the flood affected town of Lismore leaving thousands of residents displaced and without a home.