Shocked locals watch casino flood for first time as NSW crisis continues

The CBD Casino has been flooded for the first time in history and around 330 homes have been flooded as the crisis in NSW continues to deepen.

Lorraine Webber said it was “like a raging river” at her fabric store, which she has owned for nine years.

“I was waist deep here trying to salvage all of our stores with sandbags,” she said.

“I was so proud of it, but I’ll see what I can do.

“You can’t wash anything and reuse it because it’s just not water: it’s mud, it’s mud, it’s water, it’s sewage , that’s all, you have to get out.”

Hairstylist Deslie O’Leary’s salon in the CBD was flooded, but she’s glad her house wasn’t damaged.(ABC North Shore: Miranda Saunders)

Deslie O’Leary bought her hairdressing business in the city seven years ago and said she had never seen it like this before.

“The casino doesn’t flood. There’s no flooding so you don’t expect it and I don’t think anyone was prepared for what happened,” she said.

But Ms O’Leary was grateful that she and her loved ones still had a roof over their heads.

“We didn’t lose a house,” she said.

A man standing in front of his flooded house.
Michael Bill takes care of things at home before checking out his business in South Lismore.(ABC North Shore: Miranda Saunders)

Business and home are gone

Michael Bill lost both his business and his home in a matter of days.

As he watched the water rise around his house, Mr Bill and his 14-year-old daughter had no choice but to act.

“He went up to probably half a meter under the awning, so we stayed as long as we could and then just took bin bags and put what we could in there and swam with the dog. and animals,” he said.

“And that was it. All the walls are done, the doors, we were lucky to be upstairs, so it’s just a big cleanup.”

Flooded household items on the street.
The council will begin cleaning up rubbish caused by the unprecedented flooding in the city.(ABC North Shore: Miranda Saunders)

Like many people affected by the disaster, Mr. Bill had no flood insurance for his home or business.

“It’s very expensive to have and shell out every year and you never make a claim, but sometimes you probably need it,” he said.

A building half submerged by flood waters.
The croquet club was flooded for the first time.(ABC North Shore: Miranda Saunders)

Grim first for the club

The Casino Croquet Club is located on the banks of the Richmond River.

In its century-long history, there is no record of water flooding the building, but that changed on Tuesday.

A woman stands in a building indicating the high water mark of a flood.
Ms Condon said she was certain the water would not rise as high as it did.(ABC North Shore: Miranda Saunders)

“In the morning, the greens were dry,” Secretary Leonie Condon said.

“[Then] devastation: covered in water and all over here and in the shed.

“There are a lot of old memories that we’re trying to dry out…if we’ll be successful, I’m not sure.”

Empty shelves in a store.
Casino will have to deal with supply problems as well as cleaning.(ABC North Shore: Miranda Saunders)

“We’ll get through this”

Floodwaters have now receded from Casino, but Richmond Valley Council now faces the challenge of replenishing food and fuel stocks.

“The challenge we have now is supply, because everything is cut off,” said council chief executive Vaughan Macdonald.

“There’s so much going on sometimes that it feels like your head is spinning.

“Everyone was shaking their heads. They’ve never seen it this wide, this big and obviously this has never happened before, this water has entered the CBD Casino.

“[We’ve] Just stick together and we’ll get through this.”

Mr Macdonald said he heard some people say Casino was being neglected as the state scrambled to respond to the emergency.

“I know there’s a street view in Casino which Casino has been overlooked. Casino has not been overlooked,” he said.

“There will be other CBDs like Woodburn, Coraki who will be more affected than that.

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