Where were you when it started?
I spent most of Sunday until 10pm helping my parents raise items above the 2017 flood level.
I then drove one of my dads cars to my house (his other car we had moved with my grandparents caravan to the tender center as in 2017 the cars here were safe) and my brother packed a few days worth of clothes into his bag, drove his car to my house and expected to have to stay 1 or 2 nights.
Left at my childhood home was my mum, dad and youngest brother.
I got into bed, and couldn’t sleep. I kept checking the river levels and reading everyone’s posts on Facebook.
My mum and dad had continued to move things upstairs until midnight. The house has a floor level of 13.86. At midnight mum said she was exhausted and heading to bed. I continued to monitor the situation. It was at approximately 2am that I read a Facebook comment about the amount of water falling in two areas outside of Lismore and that no one had ever seen that before and Lismore is going to “cop” it.
At 2.34am the water broke the levee and the prediction of 14m was announced. At this point, my family were all asleep. I didn’t know what to do. I spoke to an old neighbour who I had been checking in with throughout the night. She told me to ring and wake my parents NOW. I rang and my mums first response was “why are you calling me, you’ve woken me up. I am tired”. I told her about the current situation, she walked out our front door and all she said was “it is at 2017 level already”. This was approximately 3am.
So from 3am they began to prep and lift things on the top level.
Mum would send me updates of how many stairs the water had risen in so many minutes. It was rising SO quickly. It then got inside the top level – 13.86 floor level…. My mum was hysterical.
They had made access to the roof and placed tools up there so if they could cut their way out if it got to that point.
The rain was not stopping.
At about 630 I had phoned 000 to have them rescued and at 1130 they were still there. I had friends with boats try to get to them and they weren’t able to cross from town side over to south. I had made multiple pleas for help all over Facebook.
At 1230, I rang and said to my mum “if you can still stand in the water in the house, please get down from the roof and go out the front and yell and scream” To hear your mum crying saying she is scared and to wonder what your 15 year old brother is going through, broke me. Here I was sitting in my dry, comfortable home while they were in a life threatening position. They had lost everything. The water was up to my mums waist in the top level!!!
It was only 20 minutes later that my mum called “a boat! A boat has come. We are in the boat” the relief I felt I cannot explain.
I was straight down to the pick up point and couldn’t wait to hug them so tight.
How were you affected?
My family home has been destroyed. My family have lost all their possessions.
My mum has worked so hard to build a home and life for us kids and to see that all disappear is devastating.
What was your experience like?
I have never felt so helpless and guilty.
Guilty because I wasn’t there with them and helpless because there was nothing I could do but try get word out that they were in their home and needed to be rescued.
How did people in your community respond?
The community has been amazing. I am proud to call Lismore home.
What is your situation like now?
My family are living with me. My mum, dad, two brothers and my Nan and pop. My other Nan and uncle also lost everything so they have been here too.
The most important thing is that they got out alive.
What are your feelings about what happened?
Sad. Devastated. Heart broken.
How does everyone start over and rebuild their lives?
What is the memory you think you will hold with you in 10 years?
Seeing my mum at the pick up point getting out of the boat.
Is there anything else you think is important you would like to add?
My brother has nightmares calling out for me and asking if I am coming.
It breaks me 😭