Rally For A Just Recovery

“As I go from Woodburn to Evan’s Head, I go from people living in tents to people who might live in their house every second weekend”, a bloke called Steve said at today’s “Rally For A Just Recovery” held in the middle of town, as Lismore rebuilds after last year’s catastrophic flood.

Today’s rally at the Lismore Transit Centre, featuring speeches and music.

Steve was, of course, referring to the holiday market, and the multi-million dollar homes you find at North Coast locations like Evan’s Head and Byron Bay. In contrast, many people are couch serving, are finding it economically stressful with rent increases, or have simply moved away.

Another speaker, Antoinette described the day to day reality of housing shortages, and rent increases.

“The prospect of another flood that reached our living space is such a low risk, and one that I would take every bloody day of the year over moving to somewhere less appropriate for us.”, said Antoinette.
In our part of South Lismore, there aren’t many occupied homes.
In our part of South Lismore, there aren’t many occupied homes.

The houses in our part of town are built with hundred year old timbers. When the flood came through we had many decades of lino and carpet on the floor. Though we have replaced carpet in the lounge room (a buffer against the winter cold), we’ve mostly resorted to the original teak floodboards. 

That’s a big issue for Harper who also spoke today, as well as the strong sense of community.

“They shouldn’t be demolished, they’re a part of our unique community identity, and the most important part is keeping the community together”, said Harper.

A key theme, as I heard people chatting was a desire to keep Lismore “together” in the midst of the housing demolitions that have already occurred, and will happen moreso in the the future as the “buy back” proceeds. 

“If you didn’t live here, hadn’t lived through the flood, and didn’t feel so passionately about the community, it makes perfect sense to pick up the town and move it somewhere else. But if you’ve made your life here, it’s not that easy”, someone said today. Maybe not the exact words, but the sentiment is there, which also strongly resonated with me.

There wasn’t a large crowd, but those attending seemed strongly committed to ensuring a “fair” flood recovery, noting the increased rents faced by many in Lismore in particular. Some speeches, some music. An interesting and enjoyable couple of hours.

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