Natural disaster declared in Lismore after major flooding

Friday, 31 March 2017

Lismore was officially declared a Natural Disaster Area late this afternoon in the midst of a major flood that saw the Lismore levee overtopped for the first time since it was constructed in 2005.

Lismore City Council has begun assessing the damage caused by floodwaters, with Mayor Isaac Smith saying the clean-up could take weeks if not months, and the repair bill will run into the millions. Council will apply for funding from the Commonwealth-State National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) to assist with recovery and clean-up efforts.

Lismore’s CBD levee overtopped at 4am Friday and the SES has reported that the Wilsons River reached its peak at 11.57 metres on Friday afternoon.

Mr Smith said the CBD was inundated with water and CBD shops as well as homes in the Lismore basin, low-lying rural areas and North and South Lismore have a huge clean-up job ahead.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from homes throughout the city and around 170 people attended the Evacuation Centre at Southern Cross University.

Local roads and bridges are strewn with fallen debris and dangerous landslips, and Isaac urged residents to drive with extreme caution as the clean-up takes place over coming weeks.

Council is now looking to establish a Recovery Committee and Council staff will assess flood damage and begin the clean-up repairs as the waters recede and access becomes available. It is anticipated that water may remain in the CBD for the next 48 hours.

“There were a lot of unknowns in this flood event as the levee has never overtopped before and we had not experienced water coming into the CBD basin,” Isaac Smith said.

“Our thoughts are with the thousands of residents affected by this flood. We need to remain calm while the waters recede and we will assess damage and clean-up as access allows. We urge people to stay off the roads if possible and always heed traffic control. We have seen hundreds of people going downtown to look at the floodwaters and it has caused difficulty for residents trying to move belongings and cars. We strongly urge flood tourists to stay at home.

“We really also need to reiterate the message to never drive, ride, play or walk through floodwaters. We have seen a lot of this in the last 48 hours and it’s dangerous and avoidable.”

Essential Energy has reported that around 8500 customers remain without power across the Far North Coast with restoration efforts being hampered by limited or no access to the network due to floodwaters. Helicopters are currently flying lines between Kyogle, Nimbin and Lismore with other helicopters to be utilised across Murwillumbah and surrounding areas this afternoon.

Customers are asked to stay at least eight metres away from fallen powerlines and to report lines down on 13 20 80 immediately.

Information for local residents:

Waste collection

  • Normal bin collections will resume in the Lismore urban area on Monday. There are no collection service to rural residents at this time. These services will resume as floodwaters and road conditions allow access.
  • There will be a kerbside pick-up limited to inundation areas for flood-damaged goods as flood waters recede. More information will be forthcoming about dates.
  • The Lismore Revolve Shop is closed until further notice – likely to re-open next Thursday.
  • Brewster Street Drop-off Centre is closed until after flood clean-up and is likely to reopen mid next week.

Lismore Library is flooded and will be closed until further notice. Goonellabah Library is open tomorrow from 9am to 12pm and will operate as normal from Monday.

Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre and Lismore Memorial Baths
Lismore Memorial Baths is closed until further notice. Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre will operate as normal from tomorrow, with the exception of Learn-to-Swim classes which will resume on Monday.

Lismore Pound
Lismore Pound is full and all animals are safe and dry. If you have a missing animal, please phone us from Monday on 1300 87 83 87.

The airport runway will be inspected when floodwaters recede, most likely on Monday. More information about airport reopening will be provided at this stage.

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