The Dan Murphy's team in Lismore have reopened the store's doors today, and have shared their harrowing stories of the devastating floods.
Store manager Ryan Collin said the reopening ceremony weeks after the devastating floods was about "acknowledging the resilience of our team and the wider Lismore community".
With the flood peaking at 14.4m on February 28, the store was inundated. But, Mr Collin's direct concern was for the safety of his staff.
"15 of our team members were directly impacted by the floods, with eight of them losing everything. The road to recovery remains long, but the team says they're glad to be back in the store as it means they can have some structure back in their lives and serving the community gives them a sense of purpose," he said.
"I was up at 5am that morning, trying frantically to get hold of my team members to make sure they were all safe," Mr Collin recalled.
"One team member was stranded on the roof of her house, all by herself, and she was understandably panicking and feared for her life. And then suddenly phone reception went down for more than six hours. That silence was deafening. It wasn't until lunchtime when I was able to finally account for and confirm that all 24 team members were thankfully safe," he said.
Once the team was accounted for, Mr Collin's next focus was to find out what support the team needed and work with the business to provide it as quickly as possible, including financial and food assistance, accommodation and mental health support.
Lismore Mayor Steve Krieg attended the reopening ceremony.
"The work that has been done here is absolutely amazing, and I don't know if you fully appreciate yet what today actually means for our town. It's anchor businesses like Dan Murphy's that encourage the smaller businesses to keep going," Cr Krieg said in his speech during the opening ceremony.
"So a day like today, so soon after - you know 12 weeks since this place was under water - and to have it back, a state of the art Dan Murphy's, the best in Australia, is truly a credit to you. On behalf of the Lismore City Council, I thank you for your trust and your investment in the city," he added.
The flood crisis devastating New South Wales and Queensland this year has been described as one of Australia's worst-ever natural disasters.
"We are committed to rebuilding Lismore to be bigger and better than it was, and this is one of the very first steps in the recovery of our city," Cr Krieg said.
Donation platform GIVIT's National Engagement Officer Breannae Thompson from not-for-profit donation platform GIVIT attended the reopening.
"Thanks to generous customers and corporate donations, Dan Murphy's have contributed more than $150,000 towards flood relief in Northern New South Wales," Ms Thompson said.
"Many people impacted by this disaster lost all their possessions, including basic but important items like crockery, towels, frypans and brooms. Thanks to Dan Murphy's and its customers, 25 pods have now been provided in the Wollongbar Temporary Housing Village furnished with essential items that enable residents to clean, cook, and bathe. They can now enjoy their fully equipped new homes and finally begin the recovery process."
"GIVIT has already distributed more than 200,000 essential items to people impacted by this disaster. We will be working with these communities for many years on this recovery," she added.
In total, Dan Murphy's parent company Endeavour Group and its brands have, together with customers, raised over $530,000 thus far to GIVIT's Flood Appeal.
The reopened Dan Murphy's Lismore has undergone a complete renewal after the store area was almost completely submerged in the flood, and now ranges a wide variety of locally made products including drinks from Two Mates Brewing, Brookies Gin, Seven Mile Brewery and Clarence Distillery who offered customers tasting on the opening day.
"We are proud of how the team has rallied together to support each other and rebuild the store," Dan Murphy's NSW State Manager Darren Manning said.
"We feel privileged to be able to reopen in Lismore, and we look forward to continuing to serve and support the local community. Our thoughts continue to be with all our customers, team members and communities that have been impacted by the flood crisis," he added.
The store will continue to partner with the team behind the local Westpac rescue helicopter, who will host barbecues outside the store every Friday.
Dan Murphy's Lismore is located on 68 Ballina Road.
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