Lismore farmer reflects on 'one of the toughest years'
A year on from the moment a wave of water swept 130 of his animals to their deaths in northern NSW, Paul Weir paused to reflect.
The Lismore dairy farmer looked up at the slightly overcast Tuesday morning sky with mixed emotions, knowing that a year earlier torrential rain had caused some of the worst flooding in Australia's history.
"It's certainly one of the toughest years that myself and family have gone through," Mr Weir said.
He lost more than one-quarter of his herd. Some had drowned in front of him and others were washed away, with those horrifying moments captured on phone video.
"You can't unsee what you've seen, it will be ever in your memory," Mr Weir told AAP on the first anniversary of flooding around Lismore on the NSW north coast.
Significant animal and infrastructure losses deprived Mr Weir of one-third of his annual milk income.
And like others in the area, he is still waiting for his insurance company to pay up. "It's just loss, loss, loss, and then it's all the extra costs," he said.
Mr Weir said the rain didn't stop for months but he kept working, rebuilding and relocating some of his dairy's infrastructure.
"We've lifted things a lot higher now, above the flood height,'' he said.
"We changed our flood plan, (and) as we've rebuilt things in the shed, we've relocated them up high on the wall to make it easier for next time.
"We just roll with the punches. As farmers that's what we do, and get on with the job."
Mr Weir concedes not everyone has been able to remain operational, with some in the area shutting down their dairies.
"It's taken a big emotional toll on people,'' he said.
"To me that's the tragedy of the Lismore flood, the psychological damage it has done to people."
Mr Weir said it would take a few years for business to return to normal, but he remains upbeat.
"To put things in perspective, we have lost a lot, but there's thousands of people who have lost almost everything," he said.