North Lismore resident Vicki Findlay has developed their own successful home emergency plan for dealing with flood events.
North Lismore resident Vicki Findlay has developed their own successful home emergency plan for dealing with flood events. Jasmine Burke

Lismore woman reveals ultimate flood survival plan

VICKI Findlay is ready.

If Lismore floods the North Lismore resident and her family have their own tried-and-tested successful home emergency plan which will get them out of trouble.

And it's simpler than you might think, she said.

"It's all about the checklist - if you've got it all written down its easy.”

Lived through many floods

Mrs Findlay and her family have lived in her current house for 21 years, and experienced their first significant flood event six years after they moved in.

"We learnt a lot from that and have developed a flood plan over many years of experiencing floods here,” she said.

"The first part of the flood plan is that we always at some level prepared for a flood.

"That means we haven't built in under our house and store everything in plastic containers under our house that can be quickly lifted.

"We have a rule it cant more than two hours to lift everything under our house.”

Preparing

Mrs Findlay also said they prepare over several days and in the March flood event they were preparing several days before it arrived, as soon as they received the alert from the weather bureau.

"As soon as the heads up comes through we go into preparation mode.

"At that point it means we have adequate food, battery backup, radio in place, alternate lighting - all the things we will require if a a flood arrives and we lose power.

"That's all in place well before the event.

"We also see if there is any rubbish which needs removing and do a tip run.

From there she said, they just monitor the event and make decisions about timely lifting of gear and getting cars to higher ground and getting water and ice - the family of four usually stays in the house.

"No matter how many times you've experienced a flood event there is always a level of nervousness and feeling the need to rush.

"It's much easier if its written down in a checklist and you work your way through it as trying to remember things when your stressed is not the easiest time to remember things.

"Having it worked out makes life so much simpler.”

Mrs Findlay said the emergency plan is straightforward for them and they don't allow themselves to go on a holiday without flood preparing the house and having people in place to support their house to get through the flood.

"We just live with preparation always in place.”

"When we had dogs they had a house they would go to and we would always evacuate the dogs early.

"We do have chickens and also have an arrangement for the chickens to have them upstairs in a tarped area on the deck.”

The March Flood

The Findlay family experience floods in their North Lismore home frequently, but that doesn't deter them from living there.

"We are not protected by the levy wall, our gate height is 9.6 metres so we experience flooding often once a year. It's the norm for us.

"We have to be prepared even for a small flood as we are actually unable to leave the street after a 7m flood.”

She said during the most recent flood they had a much different experience to most people in the community.

"In the March flood I was aware of the cyclone and was watching it for at least a week before the flood happened... I was aware there was a very strong chance that it was going to be a very big flood.

"I made my own decisions on the Thursday and by lunchtime Thursday, like a lot of other experienced people I made the call it was time to get ready.

"So we started preparing before we were given warnings. Flood water entered our property at 9pm that night but we were already packed and waiting.

"We didn't have a difficult experience, we stopped during the afternoon and drank cups of tea, had a chat.

"Being aware of what you're storing under your house and being aware if you need it or not.

"We learnt way back from our first flood we had way too much stuff under our house and it took way too long to lift it all.

"We use lots of plastic crates under our house which are labelled so all we've got to do is lift crates, no packing.

"The other thing for me is I do Landcare on Slaters Creek so it's important to me to not let my rubbish end up in the creek or river.

"Just because I don't want something isn't a reason to just leave it downstairs.

"With heavier things such as a table outside we rope them to a tree.”

She said for them, seeing other's devastation was what was upsetting for them, but their experience was unlike many others.

"After the flood we were devastated to see what happened to the rest of the town.

"It wasn't actually scary for us, it was awesome. But that's from having experienced it many times.”

Home emergency plan

Mrs Findlay said "having a plan in place saves so much stress and trauma” and to be aware of the weather.

"Staying at home during a flood is not for the faint hearted, there's a lot of critters that want a dry place and it's your house which is one of the reasons I always evacuated the dogs.

"My advice is if you're going to leave, leave early.

"It's also really good to think about what your level of tolerance is... it can be pretty unconformable.”



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