The Disaster Files

In the weeks (and now months) since Nancy’s death (the reason I came back to Lismore), we’ve uncovered various bits and pieces of history. There are lots of photographs, a sprinkling of of newspaper clippings, and some interesting memorabilia.

We’ve named the latest discovery, “The Disaster Files”, as it’s an album of newspaper clippings about the floods we’ve had in Lismore over the years, along with a handful of photographs.

Famously, Nancy was determined not to leave her house during the 2017 flood because she “had lived through plenty of floods before this, and saw no reason to leave this time”. It’s worth noting the last “big flood” she had endured was in 1989, when she was about thirty years younger, not as a woman aged in her 70s with limited mobility!

These three photographs below tell a story of South Lismore for which there seems to be limited photographic evidence. Most of the photographs I’ve seen of the floods in Lismore have tended to be of the town’s central business district. Yes, there’s quite a lot of photographs of South Lismore from more recent floods, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot from earlier floods. For the most part, I think that’s because South Lismore has, generally speaking, been a poorer suburb, and so people often didn’t have cameras, or couldn’t afford to get film developed.

1974 flood in Lismore : we think Nancy’s car is in the floodwaters outside the South Lismore Railway Station. As a number of people have commented on Facebook, people used to park their cars at the railway station, thinking it would be safe.
1989 Lismore Flood. We think this photograph shows the back gardens (flooded) of houses at the bottom of Union Street, South Lismore.
1989 Lismore Flood : this photograph was taken from the front door of Nancy’s house at 15 Union Street, South Lismore, looking towards the railway viaduct.
Looking back the other way.

The other great discovery was an article about the time when a car crashed into Nancy’s house.

The article fails to mention Nancy, concentrating instead on her former husband, Alf. We don’t talk so much about him anymore, for reasons best not gone into.

South Lismore Car Crash, Northern Star (date unknown)

Interestingly, the article was written by Emma Tom, a local woman who went on to fame and success as a journalist with both the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian. These days, she’s known as Emma A. Jane and her biography/website describes her as an “Australian professor, author, and journalist.“. I must check her website to see if this story is mentioned in her CV :):)


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