Choppers fly cash in to devastated Lismore flood zone
“They can still access their money digitally, but a lot of the people in the floods lost everything and literally escaped without cards or wallets,” she said.
The spokeswoman said many ATMs in the city had been badly damaged, so that even those who had fled with their cards were unable to access cash. The new machine will be available to all bank customers to use free of charge at the Southern Cross University grounds.
But as power outages and thick mud prevent many from accessing Lismore’s central business district, the NBN was able to restore a crucial server to the region.
“Woodburn has been underwater and that’s where the server is for the whole of the region. They’re restoring some of that NBN network and a lot of people don’t have access to internet as a result,” the spokeswoman said.
A spokesman for the NBN confirmed the Woodburn fibre access node was hit by power outages and could not be accessed for some days following the severe weather, affecting around 56,000 premises in Lismore alone.
“Technicians were able to safely access the site on Sunday afternoon and deployed temporary infrastructure which brought affected homes and businesses back online,” he said.
In the meantime, Summerland’s spokeswoman said those needing cash can go to a credit union in surrounding areas and use the internet in the branch to transfer money from their accounts, which is then handed over as a cash payment.
“They might have money in their account but they have no way to access it, so we set them up a membership number and get them the cash,” the spokeswoman said.
Woolworths had come under fire after photos of a Mullumbimby store, about 50 kilometres to the northeast, with “cash only” signs circulated on social media. It is understood that five Woolworths stores affected by floods lost connectivity to eftpos services, but all are now restored.
In Lismore, Woolworths has had to close two stores due to damage from the fast-rising waters. However, the supermarket giant was able to deliver much-needed supplies to the nearby Goonellabah store last Thursday with the help of emergency services. It is now able to access the area via road and confirmed the store remains connected to eftpos and is being restocked as a priority.
The Summerland spokeswoman said local employers including dairy cooperative Norco and the Casino Meatworks had lost power and had no way to pay their employees.
“We handed all of their employees $500 cash just to get them some cash in their hands,” she said.
ATM operator NCR had worked with the cooperative to fly in the new machine and Prosegur was choppering money in to the region, she said.
“I think that people are just finding a deep resilience to be able to do it,” she said.
“What’s been really truly amazing is everyone is helping everyone.”