The one-in-a-hundred-year flood (that happens every five years) was somehow replaced by a one-in-500-year flood in March 2022. While a deluge of conjecture washes through community conversations as to how this could have happened, one consistent theme that is buoyant and beautiful is the community spirit and torrent of togetherness that this adversity has floated in with it.
The recent news that our mighty NSW State Government are going to step into the Northern Rivers as a sort of Mary Poppins and over-arch their solutions into an umbrella of several councils via the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation (NRRC) was met with cheer and skepticism. The newly formed corporation will rely on a ‘Flood Damage Inquiry’, led by professor Mary O’Kane and Mick Fuller; the results will not be complete until the end of June and the recommendations not advised until the end of September. Fortunately, the NSW premier, as part of his election campaign, has pledged to fix obvious things immediately after the 100,000 tonnes of debris has finally been trucked away… which it almost has. Hooray.
Through the aforementioned tsunami of grief (and devastation) there has been some absolutely incredible people providing hope with their smiles, sweat, toil, drudgery, spare rooms, garages, sharing cars, food, shelter and most of all, love. Love has taken the obvious ‘mask division’ in our towns and brought out our true colours. Bright they did shine and long may those peaceful hues remind us all of the true spirit of this region.
While a State Government funded corporation solution to our flood recovery might end up looking like a stale concrete armageddon suburb all on its own, the bright minds and intuitive hearts in this region know that a community-led template is vital.
Locally derived ideas with suggestions of; north-facing sustainability, reverence to ecology, utopian community villages, solar passive, communal facilities and local construction/jobs need to stream into the planning process. It is these locally generated ideas/solutions that the State Government need to be spoon fed, by us. Their systems are regimented and often lack flexibility to actually be able to see beyond straight lines and the hinterland finesse we all know and love.
The State Government needs locals on the ground with ideas, concepts and age-weary generational feedback of the floodwaters. We have all those things, and more.
Obvious suggestions to acquire elevated local farmland and re-zone it have already been floated into the chatter. Full blown concepts for world-class eco-villages have been mulled over, literally. Local employment and joyful conclusions have been pondered. To build the wireframing of these concepts, we need information from the people. There are passionate groups of locals who are volunteering their time to gather this information; who were affected by the floods. How did it compare to previous damage, is insurance possible, how much has the flooding cost them physically and emotionally, what solutions do they see to the problems in their local area?
We need you, our fellow Northern Rivers residents to cast your opinion via a very thorough community-led survey, please visit: www.surveymonkey.com/r/NorthernRiversRecovery
The results and ideas/concepts will be shared at SCU Lismore campus in May 2022 with a panel of locally-based professionals in renewable energy, recycling, civil engineering, town planning, hydrology, telecommunications and insurance. Survey participants will be invited to attend the forum via Zoom and vote on potential solutions. The final conclusions will indeed be presented to the State government.
Community Zoom session
On Tuesday May 31 a public Zoom forum will be held to review and discuss survey results and forward plans.