When my colleague Harriet, a journalist at the ABC, visited our house earlier in the week, we mentioned the leak from the nearby bitumen plant. Very quickly, she realised the significance of the story, did some investigations, organised some interviews, and had an article published on the ABC News website today, and a news report which appeared on the ABC 7.00 pm News in NSW tonight. The story has also made an impression on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Harriet was one of two journalists who visited the house this week. As well as Harriet from the ABC, there was also Heath from the Sydney Morning Herald.
Although they are both based in Sydney, both have a North Coast connection.
Heath Gilmore from the Sydney Morning Herald grew up here, and his family still lives here. He is writing a major feature for the SMH about the impact of the flood both when it occurred and a few months later. He spoke to Jack and Sam about their experiences, and they really opened up, likely more than I’ve heard them speak about it previously.
When I introduced Harriet to the son of our neighbour, he was pleased to know she had a local connection, being from Grafton. “She’ll understand”, Geoff said, as he led us into his mum’s house which also has been damaged by the chemicals.
After three months, media interest in the Lismore flood isn’t as strong as it was once. Rebuilding a town isn’t anywhere near as “exciting” as dramatic rescues from floodwater.
The local journos are doing an excellent job covering the story, and their reports are being seen and heard nationally. But it’s great to have this bit of additional national coverage from these two journalists.
For anyone who doesn’t know the area, I think there’s a tendency to think everything has returned to “normal”. A common attitude is that “Lismore floods, you just mop up and wait for the next one”. People from elsewhere ask me how things are here, expecting I’ll say “it’s fine”. Instead, I tell people it’s fucked.
There’s room for optimism, of course, but right now, it’s going to be long before things are “back to normal”.