heart of our home
IT WAS a very different centre of Lismore last Saturday night when the community came together in The Quad to mark One Year On from Debbie.
The ex-tropical cyclone devastated our city and surrounding regions but at the weekend instead of major evacuation orders, the SES was welcoming young and old to come and check out their operations, play games and sign up as volunteers. The Lions Club provided a sausage sizzle, but the sodden atmosphere that existed under their pagoda in front of a desecrated St Paul's Church on Keen St a year ago, was long gone. Last April, they endeavoured to feed hungry volunteers who'd been working around the clock to salvage the CBD. On Saturday, the punters were settling down for a relaxed afternoon in the sunshine.
There was a bouncing castle encouraging child's play and, as afternoon progressed, an atmosphere of celebration had emerged. The familiar tunes of The Button Collective were playing on the stage. Hard to believe this was the same band who, during the inundation, kept the morale of trapped residents aloft with their upbeat violin-inspired folks tunes. Their message was: "See! We have not been beaten.”
Organiser Elly Bird, who was involved with Helping Hands, the impromptu aid network whose members rolled up their sleeves and triaged the flood effort in the initial fraught days, acknowledged how far the city had come within the space of a year.
Speaking into the microphone, she reminded us the struggle was not over but used the gathering as an example of how "The Heart” beats on.
"Let's be a connected and resilient community and show the world who we are. I am so proud of our community,” she said.
The community painting activity was definitely in full heart-production mode, as were The Roundabout Theatre's Valentines who were receiving love letters from whoever cared to share the sentiment. Ray was there, as always, spreading his sunny character, as were musicians Kate Stroud, Luke Vassella, Blakboi and Imogen Wolf with the Community Sing and Choir.
The Lismore Regional Gallery's pop-up bar has become an atmosphere creator and Amanda Roberts must be pinching herself at the success of her Slate Gallery Cafe.
It has been six months since disability arts company RealArtWorks first put on their Regional Arts NSW-funded performance of The Overtopping for Artstate Lismore. So, for One Year On, it seemed only fitting their emotional rendition of the night the levee broke should be remounted. By sundown, on April 6, 2018, Lismore had relived, retold and done its best to move on. It was clear a lot of good had come from the 2017 flood.