In Lismore, Ray White’s office was among the businesses inundated with flood water, but principal Neil Scott’s focus isn’t on the personal impact. His thoughts are firmly with his community.
Widely considered ground zero of the recent flood event, Lismore endured unprecedented levels of flooding throughout the township.
In a video from the front of his office that highlights the extensive damage, Neil explains the recent water levels were far higher than anything the town has previously endured, and the result is “mass devastation”.
“The whole modelling of the town was based around previous events of some 50 years ago,” he says.
“Everybody prepared based on these events, but unfortunately this weather has turned into a level, like I say, exceeding 2.5m higher than it’s ever done in the past…
“Every business, so much of the community, has been affected to the point of basically losing everything.”
In his real estate office alone, more than 100 properties under management have been impacted.
“Our number one focus was the safety of those people and our staff, of course,” Neil explains.
“We have, like I say, in excess of a hundred properties, inundated, with tenants without properties in evacuation centers, staying with friends, et cetera. We have been in touch with all these people and ensured that they’re all okay.”
While their tenants might be physically fine, Neil states the loss of property is a very different story, and will prove a major concern moving forward.
“How are we going to rebuild business, how we’re going to house these people?
“That is a true issue we’re going to face here. We’ve got so much loss of property. There will be structural damage to a lot of these homes, rendering them unable to occupy.”
Noting there is a long road ahead for the community of Lismore, Neil says he has complete faith the town will come back stronger than ever.
“The town will show its strength. We have a wonderful community.”
Neil explains that community spirit has been evident from the beginning of the current crisis, with residents banding together to help those in need.
“…the heroes of this event have been the public who, through the middle of this event, went out in their own boats, risking their own lives, to rescue all these people that were trapped in their homes – some of them in the ceiling cavities, most of them from the roofs of their properties,” he says.
Noting the immediate focus remains cleaning up and gauging the full extent of the damage, Neil says he has confidence Lismore will rebuild and prosper.
“One thing we can be confident in is that the town will come back,” he says.
“It’s going to hurt, but they have banded together already with endless supplies, endless calls for help.
“The spirit is well and truly alive, and I’m sure that we will do the absolute best that we can moving forward, and this town will prosper. It did after 2017.
“This is a different issue, it’s bigger, but I’m sure we’re going to embrace it. It might be a longer road, but I’m sure we’re going to get there.”