On 28th February 2022, the biggest flood in modern Australian history inundated Lismore and many other towns and communities throughout the Northern Rivers. With over 650mm of rain falling in a 24hr period, the Wilson River peaked at 14.4m, with the disaster affecting more than 31,000 people across the local government area.
Houses, businesses and schools that had never even come close to flooding before suddenly found themselves under water. Memories washed away, livelihoods destroyed and, tragically, lives lost.
Twenty one days later, just as the region was coming to terms with the mammoth clean up and recovery task, a second flooding event swept through Lismore. With evacuation warning systems still out of service and weather gauges inaccurate by almost half a metre, the rain returned and the levee banks were once again breached. This time the Wilson River peaked at 11.4m - the fifth worst in the region's history. The already broken town was left devastated!
The days, weeks and months that followed saw an incredible community effort. Initially to clear away the tonnes of mud, debris and rubbish that had littered the region, then to restore some level of local morale and finally to begin the recovery process.
It has been a huge undertaking by everybody in the region to do whatever they can to help. Construction companies have rebuilt houses for free, contractors have given up their time to restore power and hundreds of volunteers have gone out of their way to help those individuals in desperate need.
As a local business ourselves, we were incredibly fortunate to not be directly impacted by the flood waters, but were determined to work around the clock to do whatever we could to restore at least some level of normality to the region.
Lismore Base Hospital, Lismore City Council, Ballina Council, NORPA, various CBD businesses and even Parks & Leisure Australia have benefited from Armsign's extensive knowledge and experience at a time when resources have been so limited. Whether it has been the removal of old damaged materials, restoration works to existing pieces or the design and manufacture of brand new structures, it has been a pleasure to be able to do our bit for the community, albeit under such emotive circumstances.
As a key Parks and Leisure Australia member, our biggest involvement has come in the form of a volunteer committee to design and rebuild Wade Park in Lismore. A firm favourite with families, the park was destroyed during the floods and it is our aim to bring it back to life, in such a way that is not only suitable for all ages but also using materials and techniques that can withstand future flood events. A challenging task for sure, but one that we have fully embraced and are looking forward to seeing through to completion.
Mayor Steve Krieg has been delighted with the works completed to date, acknowledging the pro bono efforts of all involved.
“Lismore City Council is very grateful for the care, time, and dedication each member has contributed to the Wade Park Masterplan. A special thanks go to PLA NSW/ACT, CONTEXT Landscape Architecture, CRED Consulting, Peak Water, Armsign and Lark Industries for their work on this important community project.”
Parks and Leisure Australia NSW/ACT Vice President Simon James said:
"Our members understand the importance of high-quality parks and open spaces to the health, well-being and recovery of the Lismore community. For us, the Wade Park Master Plan is a fantastic example of this while also planning to make it more resilient to extreme weather events.”
For Armsign, this is just the start of many community projects that will be developed over the coming years. As a small family business, we understand the importance of not only having a community and town to be proud of, but also the knowledge that there are local businesses out there willing to go out of their way to help in times of need.
While the future of Lismore has changed forever in the wake of the 2022 flooding events, it goes without saying that the resilience of the community is stronger than ever and it's something that we're proud to be a part of.