‘I’ve always backed Lismore’: Businesses forced to relocate after flood


Having lived in Lismore for 25 years, it is forever in Melinda Turner’s heart.

But after the devastating and deadly flood in February this year, the Shoes on Magellan owner made the difficult decision to relocate her store.

“I knew it wasn’t just the bottom floor that was going to have to be repaired. It was also the top floors,” she told NCA NewsWire.

“My winter stock was on its way – and they take nine months to make – so I had 1000 shoes for winter coming. I felt lucky that they hadn’t already arrived.

“As I was cleaning all my gear up, I thought to myself I’ve got to find a place on higher ground.”

Camera IconSome people are choosing to leave Lismore following the devastating flood. Supplied/NCA NewsWire Credit: NCA NewsWire
Some properties have been boarded up. Supplied/NCA NewsWire
Camera IconSome properties have been boarded up. Supplied/NCA NewsWire Credit: NCA NewsWire

Fortunately, a person helping her with the clean-up mentioned they had a mother who was having a closing down sale for a store in nearby Alstonville, so Ms Turner seized the opportunity.

“Before it came on the market, I called into the real estate and said I’m really keen to get this shop on the main street of Alstonville,” she said.

“He had a few people vying for that shop when it was ready … he chose me, thank God.”

Ms Turner has now been at the new store for five months and said she felt welcomed by the community.

“I was seven years in Lismore … so my regulars come to visit me because it’s pretty much just up the hill,” she said.

“I stayed in the community by being in Alstonville.”

Melinda Turner has relocated her shoe store. Picture: Supplied
Camera IconMelinda Turner has relocated her shoe store. Supplied/NCA NewsWire Credit: Supplied
The Lismore flood has left a lasting impact. Supplied/NCA NewsWire
Camera IconThe Lismore flood has left a lasting impact. Supplied/NCA NewsWire Credit: NCA NewsWire

Ms Turner’s home remains in the Lismore area but is on high land – and she intends to stay put.

“We always become like an island (when there is a flood), but we’ve been there for 25 years and we just have lots of food in the cupboard,” she said.

“It’s my heart. I know how the vibe is here in Lismore. It’s sublime, it’s a beautiful collection of wonderful souls.

“It’s definitely my love. I’ve always backed Lismore.”

Other businesses in Lismore have shut down completely, while some have relocated to nearby areas.

Former mayor and current councillor Vanessa Ekins told NCA NewsWire that many businesses had experienced floods before and knew what to expect.

“They’re going with what we’re calling Lismore chic – concrete floors, brick walls and that kind of industrial look for their shops, which I think is very flood ready,” she said.

Many businesses have experienced floods before and know what to expect. Supplied/NCA NewsWire
Camera IconMany businesses have experienced floods before and know what to expect. Supplied/NCA NewsWire Credit: NCA NewsWire
Janet Goodwin’s shop Totally Dogs was ruined after the February flood.
Camera IconJanet Goodwin’s shop Totally Dogs was ruined after the February flood. Credit: News Corp Australia

“There are people there who said these buildings are designed for it, they’re old.

“As long as you don’t have chipboard and plaster and other stuff in there, you can manage it and pack up and leave when you need to.

“Then there’s other businesses that have relocated to nearby towns.”

Ms Ekins said there was still a role for the CBD in the future.

“I think it’s definitely a place for pop-ups, for eating places and for social gatherings downtown,” she said.

“But in the long-term, I think we really need to definitely retreat from the flood plain. We definitely need to get houses out of the flood plain.

“I think there’s a fabulous opportunity for us right now to master plan up in the hills.”

Councillor Vanessa Ekins says some businesses are rebuilding with more industrial-style materials to withstand future floods.
Camera IconCouncillor Vanessa Ekins says some businesses are rebuilding with more industrial-style materials to withstand future floods. Credit: News Corp Australia

Ms Ekins said medium density housing should be a focus.

“One thing that we do have is a lot of land that is ready for housing,” she said.

“The whole region has a chronic housing shortage unless you’ve got millions of dollars to spend on housing.

“I think we could set ourselves up as the housing provider for the coastal region.”

Meanwhile, people impacted by the flood are still in limbo waiting for learn about buyback options.

“We’ve got families who can’t find rental accommodation, and we’ve got over 1000 people who are still in motel and hotel rooms in Brisbane and in Coffs Harbour who want to come back to their community but there’s nowhere for them to come to,” Ms Ekins said.

The NSW flood inquiry in August made 28 recommendations, which Premier Dominic Perrottet said would be adopted.



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