Through the heart… a flood of fears and tears

It has been over a year since the catastrophic flood devastated Lismore, my hometown in Northern NSW. However, the recovery of both people’s lives and infrastructure is still slow and ongoing. The emotional impact of the flood still runs deep, which I have observed in my own family and the lives of many others. These emotions were further highlighted in a photographic exhibition titled “Through the Heart… A Flood of Fears and Tears,” which recently opened at the NSW Parliament.

Local photographer Jacklyn Wagner captured the devastation caused by the worst recorded flood in the area’s history. She knocked on the doors of approximately 100 people who had little choice but to move back home, despite having no doors to knock on, walls, power, or water. The exhibition showcased the stories of these individuals, portraying the emotional and physical impact of the flood on their lives.

I had the opportunity to report for ABC Radio from the exhibition opening, where the photos were a poignant reminder of the devastating effects of what happened. The exhibition title, “Through the Heart… A Flood of Fears and Tears,” perfectly encapsulated the emotions captured in the photographs.

The slow recovery process in Lismore is evident from the photographs, but the resilience and courage of the people affected is also evident. The exhibition provided a platform to acknowledge the challenges faced by the community, yet it also highlighted their determination to move forward.

“Through the Heart… A Flood of Fears and Tears” exhibition is a powerful reminder of the devastating effects of the flood on the people of Lismore. It is also a testament to the resilience and determination of the community to recover and rebuild.

ABC Radio story about the exhibition.
The official launch of the exhibition. The voices you heard were Jacklyn Wagner, Mark and Vicki Youngberry, John de Looze and Harper Dalton (all from South Lismore). After Sydney, the exhibition goes into storage, awaiting the re-opening of a suitable venue for a show in Lismore.
Nieces, Willow, Shyloh and Karran
Nephews, Ryan (father) and Xavier, along with Tash, with their makeshift walls, made from road signs.
Jack in the weeks after the catastrophic flood.
Jack and Sam rescued from Elliott Road. The text says “Pop, we’re in trouble”, whereas he actually said, “Pop, we’re fucked”.

For me, it was kinda interesting/weird to be there in both a personal and professional sense. I was there as an active member of the community, and in support of my family. But also there as a reporter. I hope I got the balance right.

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