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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

What Lismore mayor wants to spell out to the PM

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This restaurant in the Lismore CBD is one of many that has had to throw away much of its equipment and furniture. Photo Darren Coyne
This restaurant in the Lismore CBD is one of many that has had to throw away much of its equipment and furniture. Photo Darren Coyne

Chris Dobney

Lismore mayor Isaac Smiths. (file pic)
Lismore mayor Isaac Smiths. (file pic)

Lismore mayor Isaac Smith has one four letter word that he wants to tell prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is visiting the city this morning: ‘HELP’.

Both the PM and NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian are touring flood affected areas of the northern rivers today.

Cr Smith said neither he nor Lismore City Council had received any official notice of the flying visits.

‘As you can imagine, with these sorts of events, they come in a flurry and leave in a flurry,’ he told Echonetdaily this morning.

‘I guess my main aim is to pin them down when they get here about supporting our community,’ he added.

Disaster relief

‘I know there are disaster relief schemes at both state and federal levels that they will be talking about but I believe we have exceptional circumstances here and, much like has happened with other extreme events across the country, I hope they can come to the party and support our local businesses and residents.’

The mayor said that while calling in the Army to help with the clean-up ‘could be an option’ that ‘one thing we do have is an army of volunteers coming in through the Lismore Helping Hands project, which has just ramped up today. There are more than 5,000 people willing to help.’

‘But if it gets bigger, and we feel there’s more to be done, that may be a key argument for bringing in extra support from the federal government,’ he said.

Even the Vinnies store in Lismore had had to throw out much of its stock. Photo Darren Coyne
Even the Vinnies store in Lismore had had to throw out much of its stock. Photo Darren Coyne

Business hit hard

The mayor said half of the businesses in the CBD had been rendered all but inoperable by the floods.

‘Some had the chance to protect and lift a lot of gear up but at least half of the businesses didn’t have a chance to do anything so they’re the ones we’re really going to focus on.

‘We want to make sure everyone opens up and starts selling again as soon as they can.’

He added the sudden change in the predicted river level rises left many businesses feeling confident the levee wouldn’t be topped until it was too late to do anything.

‘The reports came through for moderate flooding early on Friday morning, which turned into a major over-topping earlier on the Thursday night. So it did change very quickly and caught a lot of people out. I don’t know the processes around how and why that happened but that’s something we’ll investigate over the coming weeks,’ he said.

Levee rumours

Cr Smith said persistent Facebook rumours that the levee had cracked were just that but he acknowledge some rubber seams between sections of the levee had leaked.

‘I spoke with the SES person who saw the leak occur. They said it wasn’t a crack it was just a small gap in a seam.

‘So as far as we know, the levee is structurally intact but given the size of the event there may be some small seams that have popped and water has come through those rubber seams. That’s certainly something we will need to fix in coming weeks.

Words for PM, premier

The mayor said he would today be asking the premier and prime minister to ‘help us’ on behalf of the people of Lismore.

He also implored residents to ‘continue to support each other. Continue to be there for your neighbour and the shop beside you.’

‘This is something we’ve dealt with before and it’s likely to happen again in the future so we need to build our resilience up and keep working to make sure we accomplish everything and recover our city in the coming weeks,’ Cr Smith said.

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  1. Isaac Smith has shown great leadership on the floods. Yesterday he visited South Lismore and spoke to numerous residents and business owners. I was impressed by his ability to calm people and to reassure when this is what so many people needed.

    The response of Council staff has been outstanding. My next door neighbour who works for Council and whose own home had flood water through it, left home yesterday afternoon to go to work cleaning up.

    Our home had 20cm of water through it and all day we had people calling in offering food. Friends allowed us to shower and eat a hot meal which after 3 days without power was so appreciated. Other friends have offered a new bed, a new fridge and accomodation whilst our house is repaired.

    Lismore is a great city and frankly people on some on line sites who mock the Mayor and do nothing but bag this great city should, like the flood waters, just clear out of town!!

  2. I called the NSW Premier’s office on Thursday morning and asked where the premier was during this terrible event and what was her comments on it and a Fiona said “what disaster” I told her that the north coast region was under water and there could be lives lost she just went quiet. I waited and on Friday the Premier was silent but had a TV interview explaining how the commissioner of police was retiring etc. not a word. In the mean time the premier of Queensland was there for the people giving support. FInally on Friday afternoon the premier made a TV appearance and more or less chastised people for going through flood water. Where is Thomas George? NOt everyone has a radio anymore. We need TV updates on the road closures. VERY IMPORTANT. Also went to south Lismore for some stock feed this morning. The bridge was shut at the northern end of town so hundreds of people went down had to turn around and then of course there was a traffic jam back at the south Lismore round about to the Bruxner Highway where were the council or police? Why wern’t they working this out?? Come on everyone get some common sense.


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