Lismore residents forced to start anew after ex-Cyclone Debbie

Lismore residents forced to start anew after ex-Cyclone Debbie

The Lismore Uniting Church including their Red Dove Café and Op shop are just a few of the buildings, homes and businesses damaged by floods caused by the ex-Cyclone Debbie in northern NSW, last week.

Aerial footage shows the sheer destruction of the submerged town. The Wilsons River flows through the town and peaked at 11.6 meters. This is the river’s highest water level recording since 1974.

The Lismore Uniting Church Regional Mission minister Rev. Robert Griffith said that they did not have enough time to save everything before the SES had the town evacuated.

“[The water] came through like a raging torrent, we literally only had half-an-hour to get out of the centre of town, before it was under water,” said Rev. Griffith.

Rev. Griffith was the first to see the extent of the damage at Lismore Uniting Church at 6am on a Sunday morning.

“It was an absolute disaster to see it at first light on the Sunday.

“All the pews were on their backs floating, full of mud and the pipe organ was picked up like a matchbox and turned on its back,” said Rev. Griffith.

The Op shop was under two metres of water. However Rev. Griffith said this did not compare to the locals whose whole homes and businesses had been damaged.

Some of the shops in the town’s CBD have closed their doors and won’t be reopening.

Looking out towards the town, Rev Griffith could only describe the scene as the aftermath of a war with potholes in the road and bitumen piled on the sidewalks.

Many of the activities in the Lismore Uniting Church buildings have been cancelled for at least two weeks.  As for the church building Rev. Griffith said it could take months before it reopens. Until then, services will be held upstairs.

“We have to make big decisions about whether the church gets put back the way that it was or whether something else needs to happen now that’s it’s been decimated- there are a lot of hard decisions to make,” said Rev. Griffith.

For now the clean-up begins for Lismore residents and congregation members.

“If I was talking to you in a years’ time, we would be praising God for a fresh start and new equipment and a new day but at the moment we are fully engaged in the clean up process” said Rev. Griffith.

How you can help

Pray for the residents of Lismore and surrounding suburbs and for those who are assisting in the recovery and emotional assistance as people deal with the devastation.

The Assembly’s National Disaster Relief Fund is open to receive donations, with funds to be drawn on by Uniting Churches and agencies supporting recovery in affected areas.  Gifts of over $2 are tax deductible.


Melissa Stewart


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