Gary in his empty living room. The 28 February floodwaters reached the air conditioner unit in the background.
Electricians help set up Gary with one working power socket, which he uses for this makeshift kitchen.
Twenty years ago, Gary endured a period of homelessness. He couch-surfed and moved often, before settling in Lismore in 2007. By 2013, he had taken out a mortgage on a two-storey weatherboard home near the centre of town, well above the flood level.
Gary with one of his hand-made guitars that he was able to save from the flood.
A child’s doll among rubbish outside houses inundated by floods. Source: AAP / DARREN ENGLAND/AAPIMAGE
Lismore’s housing crisis
Tony and Gary playing some of Gary’s hand-made guitars.
Tony, a self-described “guitar tragic”, has been cleaning and re-stringing Gary’s handmade guitars – his most prized possessions – after they were damaged in floodwaters. He’s also provided some furniture to Gary as he tries to make his home liveable.
The Winsome in North Lismore, originally a pub, dates back to 1925.
Soup kitchen’s facilities destroyed
Mieke Bell inside the gutted ground flood of the Winsome and Lismore Soup Kitchen.
Mieke Bell, a volunteer of 32 years at the Winsome and its president, says most of their 18 residents were evacuated the previous day, but most of their facilities were destroyed.
SES rescuers used the Winsome’s balcony as a drop-off point for flood survivors on the morning of 28 February. Credit: Tony Batchelor
Mieke says a crew of tradespeople were in the middle of dismantling damaged walls – “which had turned to mush,” she says – when the second floor hit on 30 March and rose half-way up the ground floor. Close to two months later, repairs are slow-going.
‘Doesn’t feel like home’
William Gallagher and his dog Shelby were moved to a caravan park in Ballina after his home was completely inundated.
Life in a caravan park
A Lismore resident speaks at a NSW flood inquiry meeting in Lismore in early May. Source: AAP / JASON O’BRIEN/AAPIMAGE