‘Lucky to get out’: $40k damage for printer
“We had to get out pretty quick so it was a dart and dash sort of thing,” says Duncan Ross of South Lismore screen printing and signage business Pegasus Screenprints, where last week’s devastating flooding caused more than $40,000 in damages.
Ross and four other staff members were forced to evacuate the Kyogle St factory late last week as Cyclone Debbie caused unprecedented flooding across the region and led to the evacuation of tens of thousands of Lismore residents.
The evacuation order came so suddenly that staff at Pegasus didn’t have enough time to fully secure equipment and stock.
“By the time they announced the evacuation order, all the roads out of here were under water,” says Ross. “I had to drive through three road closures just to make it home. But we were lucky to get out in time because a lot of people got stuck here.
“We’ve had a fair bit of water come in and it’s destroyed a whole lot of stock and a fair bit of equipment, including a few computers, all of our benches and tables, an exposure light with its power supply, a few screens have been damaged and we have lost a lot of stock. Things like t-shirts waiting to be printed were just covered in mud.”
Since starting up in 1993, Pegasus Screenprints has grown to be one of the leading screen printers, sign makers and suppliers of promotional products on the Far North Coast of NSW.
“From what we’ve looked at so far, the bill will probably be at least $40,000 but there’s an entire section of the shop that we haven’t even really gone into yet,” says Ross. “That room has more stock, flash curers, window tints, corflutes and other things. We’re waiting for the owner to return today (Wednesday) before we take a good look in there.”
Owner Malcolm Ross – Duncan’s father – has been out of the country after a death in the family.
“The boss, my father, has been away in England because his father just died. I’ve been keeping him up to date via Skype and emails to try to prepare him for what’s happened here.”
As the clean-up continued yesterday, Ross and other staff members took a break to set up a barbeque to help feed locals, some of whom have been left homeless by the flooding.
“We bought some snags and bread and water and tried to help out some people a little. There’s a lot of angry people around, a lot of heartache, a lot of worry and concern, and no-one is sure what the outcome is going to be,” says Ross. “The government is offering everyone a loan but most people can’t afford to pay off loans they already have.”
Pegasus should be up and running as normal in a week or two. “The print area is nearly operational but the graphic side of the shop and the digital area have a ways to go and we still have no phone or internet.
“The Pegasus team would like to say a massive thanks to everyone for their help over the past few days,” says Ross. “For any existing job status, please call 0435-743-918 as we are in the building but cannot do any production.”
Two minutes away, around the corner on Union Street in South Lismore, commercial offset and digital printer Lismore City Printery – described as ‘the oldest and largest printer in Northern NSW’ – escaped the worst of the flooding thanks to its factory being located on ‘a little bit of a rise.’
“We were really lucky because we had just an inch or so of water come into the building,” says a staff member. “It was a close call but we prepared really well and moved a lot of our machines and equipment either upstairs or to a safe location.
“We did have a big tide mark around the building but we’ve cleaned up now and business is getting back to normal.”
Insurers so far have received $306 million in claims from 28,000 claimants in New South Wales and Queensland who suffered flood damage. “We expect those numbers will continue to rise,” says a spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Australia.