ROLL ON: Craig Newby (left) thanks Lismore Salvation officer Samuel Bacon for The Salvos coming to his family's aid at Rollerworld after the 2017 Lismore Flood.
ROLL ON: Craig Newby (left) thanks Lismore Salvation officer Samuel Bacon for The Salvos coming to his family's aid at Rollerworld after the 2017 Lismore Flood. Sophie Moeller

Hope rises from flood for Rollerworld

FOUR months after Cyclone Debbie hit Lismore's Rollerworld, owners Belinda and Craig Newby had "run out of hope”.

"It was the first time in my life I'd had to think about things like food on the table,” Mr Newby said.

"We just didn't have anything left, financially or emotionally.”

Thankfully: "The Salvos came in at just the right time”.

When the floods hit, the Newbys had been operating the 30-year-old family business for 11 years and had it running just as they wanted.

Not new to the vicissitudes of the river, the couple had their "well-rehearsed” flood plan and accepted they were not in a position to secure insurance.

What they didn't expect was that the Bureau of Meteorology's predictions would change over the course of 24 hours and the flood waters would be "twice as high as anything we had ever experienced, or had been expected”; they would not be able to get back to the rink to save anything.

"Knowing it was going under, we were just gutted,” Mr Newby said.

"All the electricals, the whole ceiling and all the internal walls had to be pulled out and replaced. All the skates and other equipment were damaged - mostly ruined. The skates were worth $60,000 alone.

"We thought we were done.”

They were so grateful for the help of locals who rallied to support them. Friends donated, a GoFundMe page was created and other skating rinks donated stock. The Newbys spent the next couple of months working 16-hour days, painting and restoring the place. Mr Newby also took a night job, but they soon realised this would not be enough to get back on track.

"When the Salvos helped us, Belinda broke down in tears. We didn't know where to turn or what we were going to do, but the Salvos helped the situation become doable and brought this sense of hope and belief that there still are people in the world that are caring for others,” Mr Newby said.

Speaking at a special breakfast to launch this year's Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal, he spoke of how the Salvos facilitated special disaster funding and a local team joined working bees to carry out chores, such as skate repairs.

They then took up an extra special collection to provide a pre-Christmas gift of a mini-holiday to Brisbane.

"This allowed us as a family to just stop, collect our thoughts and enjoy some time together.”

By Christmas, although still struggling, and with much still to finish, Mr Newby said Rollerworld was trading again.

"We were floored by the support and were left feeling there was much more good in the world than bad!”

During the launch at the Lismore Workers Club last week, the Salvos called on Northern Rivers businesses and individuals to dig deep to help the annual Red Shield Appeal in May.

Fundraising manager, Rowan Johnstone said money raised from the Red Shield Appeal would help those in need.

The Salvos will be rolling out its Donation Tap Points across 400 locations, including 12 on the Northern Rivers from May 21-31.

The doorknock weekend is May 26-27.