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Byron Shire
March 23, 2023

Lismore floods again, levee overtopped

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Junction Keen and Woodlark Streets, Lismore, with rising floodwater. Photo David Lowe.

Like the sequel to a horror film no one wanted to see, Lismore was hit again by severe storms and major flooding yesterday.

In what is being called an extratropical cyclone (fed by water vapour from a warming ocean to the north east), intense rain fell on a completely drenched catchment and flooded the two major river systems flowing into Lismore, leading to a peak of 11.4 metres at 5.40 pm yesterday.

BOM river height data showing flood level reached in Lismore, 30 March 2022.

While not as severe as the flooding a month ago, this was still one of Lismore’s worst floods, almost reaching the heights of the 1974 and 1954 events (which reached 12.11 metres).

Many areas of the city were already underwater from flash flooding before the levee overtopped yesterday morning.

With dangerous areas of the city evacuated, and most affected buildings already stripped from the previous flood, the city was an eerie, post-apocalyptic scene as water crept steadily higher.

The photo gallery below shows Lismore from the ground and from the air.

Councillor’s view

Lismore City Cr Darlene Cook told The Echo, ‘Watching the creeks and rivers rise again in the past few days, my heart has gone out to everyone going through this catastrophe for the second time in a month.

AZA Motel Lismore with rising floodwater, 30 March 2022. Photo David Lowe.

‘Hearing the stories of fear, trauma and heartbreak, I know that these floods are going to be embedded in our community psyche for years to come.

‘I’m very grateful to everyone, both from emergency agencies and community response groups, who have stepped up again to organise the rescues and the evacuation centres.

‘What we must have, as a matter of even greater urgency than before, is an immediate financial commitment from the NSW government for short, medium and long term housing, and for funds for Council to commence the extensive work of repair to our roads, bridges, and community infrastructure so damaged in recent weeks.

‘Climate change is a reality, and if governments fail to address this issue now, then they will pay the price at upcoming federal and state elections,’ said Cr Cook.

Comment was sought from other councillors and representatives.

On the ground

House in North Lismore with rising floodwaters, 30 March 2022. Photo Adam Guise.

One business owner in Woodlark Street came back to see a torrent engulfing his shop. While he had no stock remaining inside, he had just repainted the interior and fitted a new door, now damaged.

With the showground seriously inundated, the fate of many donated goods remains unknown.

Power was cut to large areas of Lismore at the same time as the levee was breached, and many residents are still without power today, as the dangerous weather system moves further away from the area but much of Lismore remains underwater.

Several important creek monitoring systems and other weather stations remain unrepaired a month since the last flood, making it difficult to know precisely what has happened in many areas.

The calm after the storm. Lismore, 30 March 2022. Northern end of hindmarsh street overlooking rugby grounds. Photo Vanessa Ekins.

The flooding threat has not passed for downstream communities, already reeling from local flash flooding and now facing another assault from the river.

Villages in the hills have experienced more damage to roads and further landslides, compounding the already mammoth clean-up effort from the last flood.

Photos from 30 March 2022:

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  1. In the first flood in Lismore 1:200 on 28/2 we only had a 12.30am text message when most were asleep.
    In Lismore we were being told to expect a 1974 level, but it was 2m over that one. Too late.
    The next on 30/2 the SES advice was too much/too often by comparison.
    It was on/off again for evacuations [even for areas not under threat] plus defective pumps, siren and gauges.
    What a misuse of available flood prediction resources and technology !
    But as ever, Bureaucracy will protect it’s own.
    So expect plaudits/medals/pay increases to flow to BOM/SES senior management and top-brass.
    The usual platitudes will flow – EG ‘lessons to be learned and implications for next time”, blah, blah.

  2. Thank you, David, for your continuing coverage of the floods. I suspect you must have a drone – but where do you launch and control it from when there’s so much water about?

    • Yes I agree, all the photos were quite excellent from both photographers.
      Definitely worth archiving/viewing by future generations.
      Really historic and worthy record of that terrible 2nd major flood on 30/3/2022.

  3. Form what I know about buying a home, doesn’t matter where it is.If the bank loans you the money, you have to pay insurance,just in case something happens ext,So are the banks liable when it comes to lending in flood zones when no one will unsure you, or is it the council that approved the home in the flood basin in the first place liable . Please don’t hesitate to coment as I have no answers,and I believe that someone should be answering for this.


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