There was a moment today, as I walked around the block in Lismore, when I felt really quite sad.
It’s three and a half months since I’ve been home, and it’s fourteen months since last year’s devastating floods.
Deep down, I’d hoped the progress towards recovery might have been a little more profound than what I saw today.
On the positive, there are many more re-opened shops around the main block. I’d estimate maybe thirty percent of the shops have re-opened. There are also some wonderful new businesses which have opened, including a fairly trendy new bar (The Levee), and a new Mexican restaurant.
But there was also a lot of shops that show no signs of re-opening, or are up for sale. I looked in the real estate windows, and most houses in town seem to be down $100k to $200k on what they might previously have sold for.
As I walked around the block, no one looked terribly happy. But maybe that’s because it was around lunchtime on a Monday? Or maybe it’s just because winter is on the way? Maybe things will be brighter towards the weekend? Or maybe everyone is so incredibly tired after what they’ve been through since February 28, 2022?
Most of the houses in our part of South Lismore remain empty. Some have even been demolished, including the house which (in)famously caught on fire in the midst of the flood.
Despite the apparent glumness of the town, it’s lovely being with family.
I haven’t been home for a few months because Pat had a fall in January, broke her leg in multiple places (she’s old, with weak bones due to many years of heavy smoking), and has been in rehabilitation at Ballina. I’m here for a couple of weeks to help out with some cooking, cleaning, and company.
And there are some signs of life (literally) with posters for music, theatre and other activities.
“Just one night has changed our lives forever”, my relative Jack reflected today.