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Locals help clean up Lismore

Fire and Rescue NSW Mulwala Unit members and retained firefighters Cathrina Shaw and Kellie Peirce travelled to Lismore to assist during the devastating floods. Photo by Les_Garbutt

Despite helping out at the tailend of the devastating floods in Lismore and surrounds, two Fire and Rescue NSW Mulwala Unit members have described the situation like a war zone and overbearing.

Retained Firefighter Kellie Peirce helped clean up the mess in Lismore from April 2 to 7 except for one day helping out in Tweed Heads. “It was like a war zone, with furniture everywhere,” she told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.

“There was a lot of water. Still, it was rewarding helping out.” Kellie helped out moving furniture from homes and businesses, cleaning and washing “to get people up and running again”.

Retained Firefighter Cathrina Shaw was in Lismore from April 6 to 11. “I was mopping up, going into businesses and homes, cleaning mud off the floors and doing some community work cleaning bike paths along the river to get some normality again,” she said.

“It was at the tailend but that was bad enough. It must have been so overwhelming for residents with furniture after furniture lined up outside homes.”

Lismore residents told the Mulwala helpers: ‘You can’t appreciate how the water got second storey high into businesses, homes virtually submerged and mud landslides from hills into backyards’.

“The smell of it – the mud and the timber – was pretty overbearing,” Cathrina said. “But there’s a good feeling among residents who are keen to get back and have another crack at life there.” “There’s still a lot of work to do,” added Kellie.

The devastating and destructive floods happened on February 28 and days later in March. On February 28 the first flood peaked at 14.4 metres – two metres higher than the previous record of 12.27 metres in 1954 and well above the town’s 10-metre-high levee wall.

Kellie and Cathrina, who stayed on campus at the safe Lismore TAFE, said residents were very appreciative of all the help they received. The Mulwala pair were just glad to help out and are thankful for their own comfortable home situation.

Cathrina and Kellie commenced duty at Fire and Rescue NSW Mulwala Unit in 2021 and 2020 respectively. “I love it,” Cathrina said. “Good crew. Constantly learning about things which are interesting and essential.”

“I love it,” Kellie said. “It’s a rewarding job which is good. You do attend some jobs which don’t have the best outcomes but there are other times such as collecting money for the Good Friday Appeal which is so rewarding helping kids. I wish I had have joined earlier.”

Mulwala Unit Captain Matt Jarrad complimented the ladies on their work in Lismore: “It was great to be represented,” he said.