From mud and mopping up - not once but twice - to stepping out in style, Lismore woman Jenna Robinson has experienced a range of emotions this year, with more to come this week at the Sydney Royal Show.
The 21 year old from NSW's North Coast, was recently awarded Royal AgShows NSW Young Woman of the Year for her zone, and headed to Sydney this morning, her family in tow, on a well deserved break from the muck and misery of a flood-bound Northern Rivers.
Ms Robinson grew up on a sugar cane and cattle property near Woodburn is an old hand at disaster response, having served alongside her pop with the local bush fire brigade. During the recent double-flood that drowned her home in South Lismore and her family's properties near Woodburn, she became both victim and helping hand.
"When the first flood hit I was pretty much left with just the clothes on my back," she said. "In 2017 the water in South Lismore came to 30cm below the floor while the previous record flood came just-in so my partner Jy and I thought, 'sweet. We'll be ok.' But it stopped 20cm from our ceiling. We lost everything.
Her show society accoutrements had been cleaned and another dress delivered in anticipation of the Sydney Royal experience but some of that was unsalvageable.
However, with a bit of grit and determination she managed to save her personally valuable show society sashes. "They were muddy alright, but with a bit of a wash and scrub they turned out quite nice," she said.
Support from show sponsor Birdsnest Clothing helped flesh out her meagre wardrobe.
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Jenna and Jy were quick to act on early flood evacuation warnings and fled the city with their dogs to the safety of Jenna's mother's parents house at Wyrallah, out of the flood. For that they were grateful, but going back home to clean-up was sickening.
"I took a hammer to my kitchen cupboards at one point," she said. "I think I was taking out my anger.
"Once I cleaned up my house I then helped out at Woodburn. I love Lismore but I also wanted to help in my home town. My grandparents at Kilgin lost everything and where my parents live near Swan Bay the water came in by 25cm. We salvaged as much as we could. The chooks floated around on a dog bed and when the waters came down they just hopped off. There's actually a few more birds than before."
"My Pop made sure the cattle were on hill country before the flood, especially as he had recently bought a new Lyle Family Angus bull. But we lost two horses when they wandered off their raised mound.
"With all the family going to Sydney we can forget about this place for a while; enjoy something different,." Jenna said. "It can be hard to remain positive. You do feel defeated at times but we will try to rebuild. It will just take time."
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