Flood Stories, NSW Floods March 2021

There are many stories from the March, 2021 Floods, some say the biggest flood event in 100 years. On the preceding pages we talk to a few of those affected and some of the helpers.

Miss Nellie’s Cafe

The March 2021 Floods across Eastern NSW have been beyond extreme, Miss Nellie’s Cafe at Kendall has been greatly affected and have an unsure future.

Chrissy Jones spoke with owner Jenelle Nosworthy about the devastation caused to her business.

Can you give me a description of what happened?

We were cut off at home from the cafe due to flood waters morning of Friday 19/3 and friends sandbagged for us at 8am as the river was rising quickly, thinking we could prevent an inch or two from coming under the doors. We weren’t too concerned at first.

Within a few hours the river had broken its banks and we were sent photos of the water approximately 1m deep - up to the window sills, by 8pm it was over 2m and above the front door. We knew then we would lose a lot of equipment but could not imagine the devastation that ensued. We had no time to prepare and get things out so we have pretty much lost everything!

We received photos the next morning, Sat 20/3 at 8am (24 hours after sandbagging) and the cafe had been decimated - side verandah and garage ripped off, sidewall ripped out and front windows and doors smashed in with the deluge creating devastating havoc inside. When we finally got in to see for ourselves that afternoon, the water had subsided to ankle depth and we could not have imagined the devastation.

Locals quickly came to our aid with scaffolding, roof supports and anything else they could do to secure the building.

We have lost all our contents, equipment, food, utensils, furniture, keepsakes and grandma’s handwritten recipes, most of which travelled downstream or were strewn around the backyard in trees and stuck in fences, under mud and debris.

After trading all through COVID and thriving since lockdowns eased, we bought the cafe property off our landlord after saving hard and renting it for 8 years... now almost everything is gone.

My heart breaks the most when I see the devastation in the faces of my youngest staff, my friends and then when I read the messages of support from so many of our customers, from near and far as well as complete strangers.

We want to rebuild. The community needs us to rebuild. They will help us rebuild.

Emotions are circling. I am able to process it now that I have seen it for myself but keep flashing back to how beautifully maintained and welcoming our 100 year old building was only a few short weeks ago.

I also feel defiant though and want to do this for the Community, our staff and customers as much as for ourselves. It won’t be easy and quick but we have lots of options for “temporary Miss Nellie’s” and so many offers from local trades to help us rebuild and repair.

The Community have come to know us as friends and many are like family. Miss Nellie’s has been a comforting and familiar sight when you drive into town and many of the local children have grown up with us, in the past 9 years with many of them eventually working for us!

At the other end of the scale, we are very popular amongst the older generation who regularly visit for scones, homemade cakes and light meals because our food evokes memories of their past, growing up as children in their Grandparent’s kitchens - it is a timeless tradition.

We also host many of the local Tennis members, Social Clubs, Seniors buses and over the years repeat visitors from interstate and overseas return year after year.

The building has now been secured and assessors have been but now just waiting to see if/what insurance will cover. There is a chance the building can’t be saved but still hoping we can restore it rather than a complete rebuild.

We are going through the process of cleaning up what we can