Lismore's First Steps Early Learning Centre was smashed in the March 31 floods, forcing the closure of the centre until May.
Lismore's First Steps Early Learning Centre was smashed in the March 31 floods, forcing the closure of the centre until May. Hamish Broome

Lismore child care centres hit hard in floods

SEVERAL Lismore child care and pre-school centres have been gutted following the March 31 flood, leaving staff with a marathon effort to restore them to their former glory.

Some of the losses have been heartbreaking, such as the valuable collections of educational resources carefully curated by staff over decades.

Sarah Ruttley, director of First Steps Early Learning, said the centre lost "every piece of furniture, every toy, every book, every personal resource of the teachers, every child file, and every staff file."

"It was quite devastating for the educators, they had their personal stash of resources they had worked on over many years for their teaching," Ms Ruttley said.

"The insurance does not cover everything that we've lost, nowhere near."

 

Lismore's First Steps Early Learning Centre was smashed in the March 31 floods, forcing the closure of the centre until May.
Lismore's First Steps Early Learning Centre was smashed in the March 31 floods, forcing the closure of the centre until May. Hamish Broome

At its height water was up to the ceiling of the centre, which backs on the Lismore levee near the Memorial Baths. It lost everything but the structural fundamentals.

"At the minute it's a shell, all it is is a steel frame," Ms Ruttley said. "Every wall had to come down."

"We're really lucky we have a fantastic owner who is putting his all into rebuilding and reopening so we all still have jobs."

 

Lismore's First Steps Early Learning Centre was smashed in the March 31 floods, forcing the closure of the centre until May. Pictures with red shovel is Deneille Tart.
Lismore's First Steps Early Learning Centre was smashed in the March 31 floods, forcing the closure of the centre until May. Pictures with red shovel is Deneille Tart. Hamish Broome

The centre is scheduled to reopen on May 8.

Other flood-damaged centres include Me and My house on Diadem St, Possums in South Lismore, and Lismore Preschool on Brewster St.

Lismore pre-school early childhood teacher Lynette Funnel said the centre had to be entirely gutted, including the kitchen.

"We've had extensive damage to the internal part of the pre-school. Our structures outside have held up pretty well."

"We're working from the ground up," she said.

Some of the losses included a 20-year collection of large hardcover educational books in its library, plus furniture, desks, and a photocopier.

Fortunately, efforts are afoot to help replace the precious learning tools.

Gooneallabah-based centre Care-Ring, unscathed by the flood, has launched a resources donation appeal to help replace flood-affected centres' empty stocks.

Director Liz Gray said the community response has been "amazing".

"I actually had a gentleman ring from Brisbane and he brought a boot load of resources today.

"A former employee brought another car load of stuff.

"People are really reaching out and digging deep."

A shipping container also arrived in Lismore on Saturday night containing an abundance of of child care resources and furniture, thanks to an inspired collaborative volunteer effort, and will be distributed over coming weeks.

Lismore Preschool is hoping to open by the end of school holidays, although it may be postponed until after Anzac Day.

Care-Ring's flood appeal will continue until the end of the school holidays. Donations of quality books, toys, and games can be delivered to 1 Hayes St Goonellabah.



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