Growing up in one of the few larger cities in our nation not near a river, I had never endured a flood. That all changed when I was appointed the Senior Minister of a Church in the Lismore CBD in 2017. Six weeks after arriving, we had the worst flood in 40 years and this was our Church building. Just to get some perspective in the photo below, the floor of the worship centre is a metre higher than street level. So there is actually a six foot high fence beneath the water in this photo.
The CBD levy is 10.6m high. The final 2017 flood level was 11.7m. It was absolutely devastating and I led an 18 month rebuilding program at a cost of $1,500,000. Everyone hoped it would be another 40 years before they had to face something like that again. Nobody thought it would only be five years and even their wildest imagination could not contemplate a flood level of 14.4m – more than 2.2 metres higher than the highest on record for Lismore. But such was the reality this week. The white line on the photo below shows the 2022 water level on the 2017 photo. The entire CBD of Lismore was under water and hundreds of homes are completely inundated.
The level of devastation is beyond words and this has been exacerbated by the fact that the water rose 4-5 times faster than at any point in recorded history. In less than 24 hours there was 770mm of rain fall in the catchment area for the Wilsons River – the highest rainfall in one day since records began. So nobody dreamed that could happen and what followed defies description.
PLEASE PRAY FOR THE PEOPLE OF LISMORE. Many of the Churches are located in the CBD and so they are dealing with their own challenges whilst trying to minister to the huge number of displaced residents. Very few homes and businesses have flood insurance – the premiums are just too high. So the loss will be extreme. Everyone knows the risk when you live on a river, but nobody ever expected this.