Deluge fails to deter the flood of shoppers



By STEPHANIE FORESTER and ADAM HICKS

HEAVY rains yesterday failed to deter Northern Rivers residents from a massive outburst of pre-Christmas cheer.

Around the region, they vied for car parks ? and spent up big once they found them.

Others, like the students at Wyrallah Public School in Lismore, were simply joyous at the amount of precipitation.

The kids have signed up to be one of 11 stations to monitor weather in their area and report it regularly to The Northern Star.

Grade 5 students Titonee Ramsay and Patrick Shortiss said they would report maximum and minimum temperatures, wind speed and direction and rainfall.

Lismore's Harvey Norman computer franchisee, Anthony Parker, was simply ecstatic as his sales soared with the Wyrallah Public School's rain gauges.

"Punters come out in full on rainy days," said Mr Parker, who is also president of Lismore Unlimited. "Some of the al fresco dining places were a bit upset though."

In Ballina, where the rains were relatively light-on during the day, shoppers flocked undercover to Ballina Shopping Fair, said centre manager Katrina Warren.

The big shopping feasts, however, were Mullumbimby and Byron Bay, where shoppers were out in force despite the deluge.

Byron Bay retailer Barry Wallace said rain rarely affected shopping in Byron Bay.

"It might affect the beach, but then the beachgoers just go shopping," he said.

Which might explain Byron Shire SES local controller Noel McAviney's conundrum: Three days of torrential rains and no disasters?

"It's been incredibly quiet," he said.

"The team even had a late start yesterday, because even though it was raining heavily, there were no call-outs."

Mr McAviney said the creeks around the Brunswick Valley were up and down with the rainfall yesterday.

He said Myocum Road ? which recorded a massive 115mm in the 24 hours to 4pm ? and Main Arm Road were both closed for the morning, while the road into Mullumbimby was awash with about 30cm of water early in the day, causing one driver to lose control. He was towed out of a roadside ditch by the NRMA.

Mr McAviney said all rivers and creeks were swollen, but would hold if there were no further heavy rains.



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