Lismore 2022 Floods

Rainbow Patchwork went through the Lismore 2022 floods, and we are working on what will be a different version of Rainbow Patchwork. We have documented our story so we can remember what we achieved with a lot of hard work, and with the help and support of family, friends and the Rainbow Patchwork community.

🔹 Sunday morning (27/02/2022) - We made the call to implement our flood plan which meant we raised our stock enough to cope with the so called '1 in 100 year flood' of 12.4m. We got stuck in early and lifted our stock so it would have all been safe for a 12m flood and most would have survived a 12.4m flood. We were really happy with this and are very thankful to the people who helped us achieve this. We were covered for the predicted flood depth of knee deep water through the shop (about 11.5m).

🔹 Monday morning (28/02/2022) - We woke to the horrors that the river was to peak at 14.5m; 3m higher than the predictions, and 2.3m higher than historical maximums. Knee deep + 3m = roof. We were personally safe, but all of our stock and infrastructure has been lost. The few exceptions to our total loss were the quilting sewing machine with its computers and all customer quilts on our premises. At this time the quilting machine was under water. After the initial shock of the direct impact it would have on us, we became aware that people were stuck and fighting for their lives on the tops of roofs. We are thankful to be personally safe, however this is a major loss for us. We realise that we are a small part of the wider Lismore community, and we will all be feeling the effects of this natural disaster for a long time.

This photo is around the corner from the shop. The water was higher than this.

🔹 Wednesday afternoon (02/03/2022) When we went in on Wednesday evening we were thinking positive and had a good action plan. What we did not think we would encounter was the back of the shop smashed in with tyres and pallets sitting in our back room. Nor did we expect to see the front window of the shop smashed out with our stock hanging out the gaping hole and on the footpath. And that was just the first look. The further in we went, the more and more damage we saw. Things that were in the back room were out on the footpath, some furniture we haven’t even found as it must have floated away. Water reached the ceiling and seemed to have gushed through the shop like a river.




🔹 Thursday and onwards (03/03/2022 - 12/03/2022) We spent Thursday with some wonderful and kind helpers disentangling the mass of disorder in the shop, discarding the heavily damaged stock and trying to salvage what we could. You can only image just how depressing that was, and still is for us.


The clean up process was slow with many helpers each day. We were mud free and able to bring fabric back in on March 12th.


🔹 Friday, Saturday and Sunday were more of the same. Builders had constructed a temporary repair to the front and back windows, we now had a front and back wall to the store, so we knew what was left inside was secure. By Sunday evening we had worked through the entire shop and removed most of the mud. This was all thanks to a mammoth effort from family, friends and some loyal customers of Rainbow Patchwork.



🔹 The below picture shows just how high the flood waters were. We thought stock up that high would have been extra safe as it was so far above the predicted height, but it was still nearly all wet and muddy. 


🔹 We had many helpers come and support, including a lot of kind helpers who took home some quilts and/or fabric to wash for us. It was wonderful to be able to share that load with you and accept your help. Here is an idea of just how many quilts we had (knowing that this was not even all of them!). You don't often see a trailer full of quilts!

🔹 Age does not discriminate when it comes to helping clean our stock. Zoe (4 years old) helped out by cleaning some of our salvaged items.


🔹 Our plan at this stage is to get the quilt machine and the quilting service up and running as soon as we can. We are humbled and thankful for all the donations that have made that a possibility. We do not know exactly what Rainbow Patchwork will look like in the future, but we are very grateful for your support and that helps us to stay positive.

 Flood Recovery

🔹 2 weeks later (12/03/2022) The first day we got fabric back in the shop was wonderful! This was the start of the 'new' Rainbow Patchwork. Stock was limited, but we did have some stock that was salvaged, and some stock had been sent in.


We replaced the floor in the back room, as this is where the fabric was to be stored to prevent light damage.



We were proud to be getting stock back on the shelves. At this stage we had unpacked and shelved a huge order from Two Green Zebras - 12 boxes of fabric were unpacked, labelled and displayed ready for sale. I was very exciting to have this beautiful fabric. 

 Flood #2

🔹 Monday 4 weeks later (28/03/2022) We received the horrible news that Lismore was going to have a major flood again. This time all stock was removed and we were safe for a 12.4m flood. At this time the flood was predicted 9.6m. On March 29th the flood height reached 11.6m.


🔹 Below are some of the photos we found showing Rainbow Patchwork at the peak of the second flood. We assumed the water would be approximately 30 cm through the shop. 


🔹 Friday (01/04/2022) The first morning we could gain access to the shop. Flood water came only in the store room and slightly up the ramp. This was a much quicker one day clean up. We had no additional damage.


Here is a before and after of the back room of the shop.


Post flood recovery

🔹 Since April 1st, we have been able to continue our recovery from the floods. We have managed to get over 200 bolts of fabric in the store (nothing compared to the original 3000+ but a good base), 40 widebacks and a large variety notions. We have made numerous quilts and corresponding kits designed by Rainbow Patchwork, as well as stocking the current Homespun BOM. 


🔹 Our online store is up and running. Over 5000 items needed to be individually deleted (which was quite a job in itself), but it is now fully up to date and accurate. 

🔹 There are still some essentials that are challenging. We have no phone line, no internet and limited power (2 power points only). We have a mobile for the phone, and a portable 4G network which allow us to operate. Lighting is majority battery which makes for a darker atmosphere than normal. We are looking forward to getting electricity back and running to continue our recovery. 

🔹 We are thankful for the amazing support we have been given, your custom is truely what keeps us going.