This week, we wanted you to hear from our ACM editor on the ground in Lismore, David Kirkpatrick. David and his team have been covering the floods on the North Coast from day one. His is a unique perspective on the disaster that has befallen the people of Lismore, and the long road to recovery ahead.
Lismore knows how to do floods.
It's a flood town.
Its residents live in two, sometimes three-storey houses, raised well above the usual flood level.
Residents and businesses have well-worn flood plans, reliable evacuation routes, methods to keep the water out and they know who to call upon in an emergency. They prepare well in advance.
But after suffering a record-breaking flood on February 28 and then another on March 30 the resilience of even the most hard-nosed citizens has been sorely tested.
It has got to the point where dark clouds on the horizon can bring out palpable fears in people and the pitter patter of rain on the roof can re-traumatise an already traumatised community.
After suffering two major floods in the space of a month, three in the past five years, Lismore probably deserves its mantle as "Australia's most flood-prone city".
But it is at a major crossroads in its history.
The sheer size and scale of this dual disaster has to be seen and smelt to be believed.
Up to 10,000 people were displaced by the rain bomb which hit on February 28. Thousands of homes have been slated for demolition or deemed uninhabitable. These homes belong to people who are just like you and me.
Thousands of people are living away from home, in temporary accommodation, campervans and tents.
Former governor general Peter Cosgrove likened it to Darwin after Cyclone Tracy levelled it in 1974. He should know, as a young soldier he was there for the clean-up.
Like Darwin post 1974 cyclone, Grantham post 2011 flood, or Mallacoota post 2019 fire, talk in Lismore is about "building back better".
But despite the promise of millions, if not billions of dollars in flood relief, by government and various fundraising efforts, the evidence is that people are building back the same.
They are building back the same because their insurers tell them to, or because it is all they can afford, or because it the quickest route from apocalypse to being able to live in their own home again.
This is not a one-size-fits-all problem. There are no easy solutions. This will take years not weeks or months to fix.
There's a massive gap between the grandiose promises by governments and actual action on the ground.
That gap is being filled by people power.
Think ordinary citizens in tinnies rescuing people from roofs.
Think thousands of people travelling from all over Australia to join the Mud Army participating in the massive clean up.
Think people making meals in their kitchens and feeding it into food hubs which are literally fuelling the city's recovery in the absence of any shops being open in the city.
Like the people of Darwin, Grantham and Mallacoota before them, Lismore residents know that long after the spotlight has faded from these disastrous events, they are going to need support from others who have been through the same thing before.
Editor, Lismore City News
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