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Byron Shire
May 25, 2022

Flood recovery 2022 must be community led and flexible

Latest News

Up to five times the average rainfall in some areas says BOM

The formal record of the extreme rainfall and flooding was released today by the Bureau of Meteorology with some areas of south-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales having five times their monthly average of rain. 

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Lismore community

First let me say how incredibly proud, inspired and supported I feel as part of the Lismore and Northern...

Flooding in Lismore, looking south to airport, 31 March 2022. Photo David Lowe.

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.

Flooding in Kingscliff in 2022. Photo Lindsay Gleeson

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.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Lismore Council is a disaster and has been for decades. If a community lead solution was going to appear one would have been found a long time ago. Everything Lismore has responsibility for is a disaster e.g. Lismore’s roads (look at the online comments on road conditions/potholes before the Council elections), water supply (CSIRO having to step in to plan future water supply) sewage (raw sewage entering the Wilsons RIver), flood planning, housing etc, etc.

    It is time to accept the reality that Lismore Council is a failure, has been for decades, and new management must be brought in to bring the infrastructure up to first world standard. For the third world standard infrastructure Lismore is forced to endure, ratepayers are paying thousands of dollars a year more than other councils, and no responsible regulator should let this train wreck continue. The state and federal governments certainly shouldn’t give the Council hundreds of millions to spend, that would be throwing money down the drain.

  2. I like this idea, but I’d like to know a bit more about who you are, who is organising this etc – we are all tired so it’s one of those sitchos where you wanna be sure it’s worth the effort, ya know?

    • Hey Sally, Simon Jones is pulling this together with the help of several other long time locals. I sent Simon a message and asked if he could expand further for you. Thanks Sally and let’s keep the good vibes flowing into this recovery.

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