Article by Andy Butler. Photograph: Natalie Grono
“I’ve never been able to conquer my fear of tsunamis and floods,” Karla Dickens tells me, “so I’ve always lived on top of hills.” Dickens has been living in the Northern Rivers region for 18 years. She’s calling me from her house in Lismore—it was spared in the recent catastrophic floods.
It’s devastation in the town. Inconceivable, as Dickens puts it—beyond what those on the outside could imagine. There are people who have absolutely nothing except the clothes on their backs. “I’ve been on washing and cooking duty,” she says. Dickens has a roof over her head, a functioning kitchen, and a washing machine. It’s more than many.