There’s no way to describe the devastation that large parts of Australia’s East Coast have seen over the first few months of this year.
Twice in the space of thirty days, towns such as Lismore in Northern NSW saw torrential rain that caused major flooding and affected the lives of every member of their community.
The floods reportedly forced over 27,000 people in Lismore to evacuate their property and left more than 6,000 homes without power.
This natural disaster affected thousands of households, but it also had a severe impact on the region’s businesses – both large and small
Michael Jackson, Branch Manager of O'Brien® AutoGlass in Lismore, recently told us about his team’s experience during this trying time, and how they were able to get back on their feet and come to their community’s aid when they needed it most.
Here’s the story.
An all too familiar situation for Lismore
As a large regional city set on the banks of Wilsons River, Lismore is no stranger to seasonal flooding. Unfortunately, we’ve seen over the years that this flooding can become quite major with the most recent event in February 2022. Amidst rising water levels and relentless rainfall, the O'Brien® Lismore branch took a major hit that heavily affected its ability to operate and service their community.
“It was much worse than we expected,” Michael told us. “The reports said it would be about 11 metres, which was already alarming, but then it got to 14, which is the biggest one we’ve had so far.”
The impact on the O'Brien® AutoGlass Lismore team
When the flood warning came through, the team at O'Brien® Lismore felt the immediate effect.
While some team members were stranded outside the CBD, unable to get through floodwaters on their way to work, others watched helplessly as water levels began to rise and surround the O'Brien® branch.
Michael and his team worked tirelessly to move everything they could to the roof of the office building within the warehouse – tools, documents and other valuables – hoping that these would be spared.
“On Friday, everyone was still in good spirits,” Michael said, “only to realise by Monday that we had lost everything.”
The resulting flood was so severe that only the O'Brien® sign out the front – the tallest part of the building – was visible when the water levels peaked.
Footage supplied courtesy of Seven Network. All rights reserved. ©
Despite the many challenges, however, this situation brought out the best in the O'Brien® team, as it did for the entire Lismore community.
Michael said, “Our team realised that with the extensive damage caused by these floodwaters, there would no doubt be hundreds of cars needing repairs over the coming weeks and months ahead, and we needed to make sure our service was available as soon as possible.”
The O'Brien® team got to work cleaning up the mammoth task of cleaning up the branch. “The clean-up was a community effort, where people were grabbing their equipment and helping us out, as we were doing the same to nearby businesses,” Michael said, “there was a great comradery working together.”
Moving forward together
When the floods hit, the O'Brien® Lismore team was already in the process of relocating from Ballina Road to a new location on Snow Street in South Lismore. Fortunately, the new location was not underwater so the focus shifted to getting their operations up and running there as quickly as possible.
O'Brien® Lismore has since been running a mobile service out of their new headquarters for customers who need urgent windscreen repairs and replacements.
“The team was doing additional hours to cater to flood-affected clients immediately,” Michael told us, “especially to help those living in their cars who needed urgent auto glazing assistance. We are checking in with customers when they book in for a repair and checking if they need extra help ahead of their appointment, so we can do what we can to assist. There are many repairs to be done to cars of those volunteers still helping out with relief & rebuilding efforts – so anything we can do to help them out – we will.”
While the floods have caused a slight delay to the completion of the new branch, the new home of O'Brien® in Lismore is up and running now, with only a handful of finishing touches to get done.
Michael Jackson (Branch Manager) and Damian Winterbon (Leading Hand) – outside their new branch in Snow Street.
A strong team for a strong community
We are proud of the effort that our O'Brien® team in Lismore has done to continue to provide much-needed services to their customers and help get them back on the road as quickly as possible.
This is a true testament to the fact that O'Brien® is committed to helping all those affected by natural disasters or adverse weather conditions around the country, whenever they need it, especially when it comes to helping keep homes and vehicles safe.
We would like to wish everyone in Lismore and all parts of Australia who have been affected by the devastating floods and rain over the past couple of months a safe and speedy recovery.
Wherever you are in Australia, O'Brien® is here to help
With a nationwide network of branches reaching 99% of populated Australia, an O'Brien® AutoGlass expert is never far away.
Whether you need a simple chip repair or a complete windscreen replacement, we’re here to help you – no matter the situation.