Brother John Hilet principal of Trinity Catholic College Lismore with students Tayla Sattler, Lillian King, Sharlee Ryan, Elise Pereira and Bella Scott.
Brother John Hilet principal of Trinity Catholic College Lismore with students Tayla Sattler, Lillian King, Sharlee Ryan, Elise Pereira and Bella Scott. Sophie Moeller

Through destruction comes hope

THE fact the Lismore floods took place just before Easter is not lost on the principal of Trinity Catholic College, Brother John Hilet. After all, Christ's message during the resurrection is "out of death comes life”.

Due to the size and location of the school, the scale of the destruction at both its St Joseph and StMary sites was "huge” and probably the worst of any school in Lismore, said Br Hilet.

"I am six foot two and I could not even reach the height of the flood level in the school hall,” he said.

"But out of destruction comes hope, that's the way I see it.”

Br Hilet is in no hurry to move the students straight back into the ground floor classrooms that were devastated by the rising water.

Trinity Catholic College was inundated when the floods hit Lismore.
Trinity Catholic College was inundated when the floods hit Lismore.

Instead, he and his staff are going to think about what should go where and how they can best use the opportunity to improve the learning environment.

"This is an opportunity to make things even better than what previously existed,” said Br Hilet.

"Disruption can be a stimulus for change and we have certainly had a disruption.”

Not since the levee was built has TCC had all its ground floor classes inundated. Staff have lost 30years of resources and half the Year 7 and all the Year 9 lockers have been destroyed.

But Br Hilet knows the school is more fortunate than many organisations in Lismore as it is fully covered by Catholic Church Insurance.

The school bought locally to procure 250 stationery packs to give to students whose possessions were lost.

There are 12 classrooms out of action at the moment, but the Catholic School's office behind the cathedral has provided replacement classrooms and he expects four more classrooms to become operational by next week.

Br Hilet marvelled at the community spirit that resulted in more than 300 volunteers (made up of past and present students, parents and teachers) coming to the school to help with the clean-up, both prior to the water arriving at the school at 6.30am on March 31, and in the following 48 hours while the flood receded. The clean-up and restoration then continued unabated during the term holidays.

Trinity Catholic College clean up after the flood.
Trinity Catholic College clean up after the flood.

"The contractors have done an amazing job on getting the college ready for reopening this week,” BrHilet said.

"The fact we only missed eight days of school is simply amazing when you consider the extent of the damage.”

Trinity Catholic College during Lismore Flood 2017
Trinity Catholic College during Lismore Flood 2017

Pupil Tia Caldwell said as an HSC student it was important the Year 12s were able to return to school and it was "really good” to see how much was achieved in the two days after the flood.

"It really showed the school spirit and how much we love our school.”

Br Hilet said it was really important the "extraordinary unleashing of community spirit” in those days was kept alive.


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