As record-breaking floods swept through Lismore, NSW, in February 2022, homes and lives were lost. It was a devastating time for many residents who had experienced floods before but could do nothing as the biggest flood in modern Australian history took its toll.
For Roger Manby, a local resident receiving home care services through HammondCare, it was the start of an 18-month journey to get his home back.
His home was one of over 2,000 destroyed by the Lismore floods which peaked at 14.4 metres in late February last year. That record height forced the evacuation of thousands, including Mr Manby who was forced to climb onto the roof at 3am with the help of his son, Jay.
“My son warned me this flood was going to be worse than I was expecting, and I better get out of bed now. So, we all hightailed it onto the roof and waited six hours before help arrived,” Mr Manby said.
Unfortunately, while Mr Manby’s home remained structurally sound, it was in no liveable state due to the floodwater’s impact. Countless other Lismore locals experienced the same outcomes as even their efforts to place vehicles and belongings into safe locations were in vain. The floodwaters were closer to two metres higher than expected.
With limited insurance cover, he relied on family, friends and some financial backing from HammondCare to help restore the house – a home he never imagined leaving.
Determined as ever to remain in his hometown, Mr Manby now has a home refitted with new walls and floors plus a brand new kitchen and bathroom. Two of his sons provided immeasurable support along the way with Jay building those walls and floors while providing a room for his dad in his house at nearby Eltham.
Another son, Rory, provided a near-new fridge and large screen TV. Combined with a new air conditioning system Mr Manby has a home filled with treasures he dreamt of.
“I’ve now got better stuff than I’ve ever had before. For 18 months I’ve been living in one room at my son’s place. I could stretch out on the right-hand side of the bed and the left-hand side and that was it,” Mr Manby said.
“Now I have two bedrooms, a lounge room and a separate dining room and a kitchen. What more could you ask for? This now feels palatial.”
Meanwhile, HammondCare has invested in and supported a total of 11 clients and five staff who experienced considerable losses as a result of last year’s floods. A total of $85,000 was raised to help clients and staff while a further $10,00 was donated to the Lismore flood appeal.
Now that Mr Manby has returned home it’s not quite business as usual, though. Jay, an artist, continues to redevelop the property’s ground floor and plans to make it a studio for his work. Mr Manby’s daughter, Heather, is also participating in the Government’s buyback scheme after her home was also impacted by the disaster.
But there is a sense of positivity in the air for Mr Manby, at least, with his prized possessions back on the wall, showcasing memories from his career at sea.