GENUINE ARTICLE: Lismore SES controller Lindsay Matterson shows an SES identification badge that all members should display on
GENUINE ARTICLE: Lismore SES controller Lindsay Matterson shows an SES identification badge that all members should display on



Thieves steal uniforms and evacuate residents

BOGUS SES volunteers tried to evacuate unsuspecting residents from their homes during the peak of the Lismore floods.

"It's the lowest of low acts," said Lismore SES unit controller Lindsay Matterson yesterday.

Mr Matterson is one of several SES volunteers whose uniforms and gear were stolen last week from their cars during the floods. The thieves took helmets, torches, wet-weather-gear and boots from SES units at Lismore, Kyogle and Byron Bay.

At the height of the flood emergency last Thursday night, two men posing as SES volunteers attempted to evacuate a number of Lismore residents.

But it appears rising floodwaters stopped them from returning to the empty houses.

Mr Matterson yesterday said he wanted the public to be aware of unauthorised people masquerading as SES volunteers.

"I have been told of two elderly women living in Terania Street, North Lismore, who on Thursday night were visited by two men claiming to be SES officers," Mr Matterson said.

"The men came in yelling 'get out, get out, the river is rising at two metres an hour'.

"The women were told to evacuate immediately. As you can imagine the poor dears went into an absolute panic.

"Thankfully the would be robbers were not able to come back and steal anything as access to North Lismore was cut off pretty quickly.

"We have had reports of the same men calling on homes in Dawson Street as well. It is of real concern to us that there are people out there impersonating SES officers and we are asking people to check the identity tags of anyone claiming to be one of our members."

Meanwhile, Lismore City Council yesterday was cleaning up the hardest-hit areas in North Lismore.

Resident Robbie Campbell couldn't hold back his tears as he looked around what was left of his belongings strewn across a paddock.

"It's like a nightmare," Mr Campbell said.

"I've lost everything and this is all I have left."

The 61-year-old pensioner had just saved enough to buy paint to touch up his Winterton Parade house, and had moved most of his belongings downstairs to begin painting.

When the flood water began to rise on Wednesday night he knew he'd have to sacri- fice it all to move his 15 horses to the safer ground.

"I don't want to live here any more, but I have no choice because no-one will give me money for the place now it's ruined," he said.

And as business owners in the CBD sung the praises of the $19 million flood levee, Mr Campbell wondered if it contributed to his loss.

"One can only presume that's why the water came so hard and fast," he said.

"I know it's a necessity, but you have to wonder why they didn't raise all of the houses in North Lismore."

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