Lismore cut off by floodwater.
Lismore cut off by floodwater. Andy D

Flood veteran in charge

THE man in charge of bringing normality back to the North Coast after the devastating storms and floods can still remember the stench of Lismore's 1974 flood disaster.

Ken Moroney, the former NSW police commissioner and veteran of rural policing, was a humble senior constable when he came to work at Lismore in 1973, aged 27.

The year after he arrived the flood that literally swamped the entire city and left an indelible mark on the region's memory, hit town.

“The thing I remember was the stench,” Mr Moroney said.

“The rate at which the water rose, and then the rate at which it moved through the street.”

Mr Moroney left Lismore as a sergeant in 1981, but he returned this week as the government-appointed North Coast recovery co-ordinator.

After meeting councils, police and other emergency services across the storm-ravaged regions, he will set up a base at Coffs Harbour.

But he expects to be doing much of his work from the car - for 'as long as it takes'.

“It's about the restoration of confidence in the people themselves,” he said.

“People just want to go home and have the things around them that make them feel secure.”

Mr Moroney returned to Lismore yesterday after touring flood-affected areas from Coffs Harbour to the Tweed on Monday.

“The thing that caught my eye was just the enormity of water,” he said.

Mr Moroney plans to work with State, Federal and local governments, Emergency Management NSW, and insurers to provide the wherewithal to give farmers, businesses, families and individuals access to the resources and expertise they need to re-establish their lives.

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