BACK ON FEET: Rod and Katherine Butterworth operate the Australia Post outlet in Prospero St.
BACK ON FEET: Rod and Katherine Butterworth operate the Australia Post outlet in Prospero St. Nikki Todd

Prospero St traders looking to a brighter future

FLOODS are nothing new for seasoned business owners of Prospero St, South Murwillumbah.

But the flood of March 2017 even caught seasoned business operators like Phil Taylor by surprise, forcing him to retreat to the loft above his workshop when the waters inundated.

Home to 23 businesses and employing 77 people, Prospero St became the centre of much attention in the days after the flood, drawing visits from national and state leaders.

Despite the attention, several businesses remain closed, including the Organic Butchery whose owners lost too much to reopen.

"I've never seen anything like it, it was three foot higher than anything else I've ever experienced,” said Mr Taylor, who first bought into the street in 1985.

"I had to spend the night upstairs. There was no-one around, it was like an island.

"But I don't think about it anymore, I just move on and take each day at a time.”

Phil Taylor from South Murwillumbah Prospero street premises resembles a war zone due to heavy flooding after Thursday nights rain deluge caused the Tweed River to break its banks.Photo: Scott Powick Daily News
Phil Taylor from South Murwillumbah's Prospero Street in the days after the March 30, 2017 flood. SCOTT POWICK

And while Geoff Smith and his son Murray have operated Geoff Smith Smash Repairs in the street for 40 years, the sheer exhaustion of the aftermath saw Mr Smith senior suffer a stroke from which he is still recovering.

"We knew it was coming,” said Murray Smith, who along with his father had moved what they could of their belongings to higher ground.

"It was a huge flood and we've seen a lot of floods. Everyone is back running pretty well but they have suffered a lot of loss.”

Prospero St business owner Geoff Smith wades through the floodwaters after March 31, 2017
Prospero St business owner Geoff Smith wades through the floodwaters after March 31, 2017 Murray Smith

Across the road, Australia Post operators Katherine and Rod Butterworth say life has been hard in the last 12 months.

"Everyone is still very upset, they are still traumatised,” Mrs Butterworth said.

"There have been a lot of health issues from it. There's not much money around. A lot of people battled with their insurance companies and got nothing.”

South Murwillumbah Prospero Street Butchers resembles a war zone as Alfred Smith sweeps muddy water and slush out due to heavy flooding after Thursday nights rain deluge caused the Tweed River to break its banks.Photo: Scott Powick Daily News
South Murwillumbah Prospero Street Butchers resembles a war zone as Alfred Smith sweeps muddy water and slush out due to heavy flooding after Thursday nights rain deluge caused the Tweed River to break its banks.Photo: Scott Powick Daily News SCOTT POWICK

The Butterworths were more fortunate, with their shop undergoing a total refit, as well as an upgrade of equipment since the flood from Australia Post.

"We have had a lot of apprehension and trauma and health issues but we have rebuilt and are looking forward to the future,” Mrs Butterworth said.

"We are very fortunate we have a very loyal client base who have stuck by us.

"We were powering before the flood but we had the guts kicked out of us, not only here but everywhere.

"But we are moving on. Two buildings have been sold in Prospero St with new blood coming in the last two weeks. It's a wonderful street, a really strong community.”

* This article was first published on Saturday, March 31 as part of a special anniversary report to mark the first anniversary of the record Tweed flood of 2017.