Flooded homes rebuilt by Resilient Lismore under Two Rooms Project

Cathy Adams
By Cathy Adams
Updated August 2 2022 - 2:12am, first published 2:00am

Last week, wind whistled through the cracks of Courtney O'Brien's flood impacted home in Lismore; electric blankets the only reprieve on a cold winter's night, where the median lowest temperature is 2.2C in July.

'I had a really lovely home': Rebuilding two rooms at a time

But, Ms O'Brien said the work being done on her home by the Two Rooms Project will go a long way to making those nights a little bit more bearable for her family.

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The single mum bought her Molesworth St home three years ago, and said she was from the area and "knew floods", but the flooding earlier this year was unexpected, rising to the top of the window sills on the second storey.

Fortunately, the family had evacuated early, but their home was left devastated.

"It was really terrible, it was devastating to lose all of your house and all of your contents end up on the front lawn," Ms O'Brien said.

After a period of couch surfing with her sister's large family, she and three of her children returned to the house, "glamping" while she began the process of rebuilding.

"Pre-flood, believe it or not, I had a really lovely home," Ms O'Brien said. "And then, post flood, I had to make big calls at the start about how much demo I was going to do. I know people were ripping out everything. I knew I was going to have to have a house and that we had to have a bit of normality. If anything, it was going to be a staged."

She said it had been difficult - she spent months washing dishes in the bath tub, and trying to rebuild around children was challenging.

Ms O'Brien said the process of applying for the Back-to -Home Grant had been fairly straight forward for her, but with the scale of damage to her home the money did not go far so any help was appreciated.

Pre-flood, believe it or not, I had a really lovely home.

- Courtney O'Brien

Resilient Lismore has been on a mission to help people like Ms O'Brien and vulnerable community members to have a safe, secure, and warm place to live.

The Twin Rooms Project was part of that mission, by helping to line the walls of two rooms in flood impacted people's homes.

A team of workers were at Ms O'Brien's home where they are lining the bedroom walls of her five-year-old twins Layla and Chase, and 7-year-old son Tyler.

"It is amazing. My sister put my name down. It is so overwhelming," she said.

Elly Bird from Resilient Lismore said the Two Rooms Project leverages donations to the community to supply and install the walls, tasking volunteers under the guidance of skilled tradespeople to do the work.

She said their overall aim was to teach the community skills so they can help themselves and each other, rather than waiting for help to come from outside sources.

"It's taking too long. There is not enough action from the government," Ms Bird said.

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To apply for help, or to volunteer, go to www.floodhelpnr.com.au.