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The Commonwealth Bank has opened its doors to the public in the NSW town of Lismore after the original site was inundated by catastrophic flooding in early 2022.
It marked the final major bank to reopen its regional branch alongside its rivals, with ANZ the first to open in April, followed by National Australia Bank (NAB) in August and Westpac in October.
Following the 28 February floods, which decimated homes and storefronts, the banks rallied to provide the community with temporary banking service relief, with temporary pop-up branches and ATMs in town.
CBA Lismore branch manager, Stephanie Darragh, who witnessed her branch submerged, said it has been “the most trying and overwhelming period for so many people in our community”.
“Our focus has been to always be there for Lismore, both in the immediate aftermath and while the town rebuilds,” Ms Darragh said.
CBA’s new branch marked the completion of a $2 million investment into Lismore this year and reflects its commitment to Lismore and to regional Australia, Ms Darragh said.
“We’ve been meeting customers’ financial needs in Lismore for over 110 years and are so pleased we can continue to do so at our new location in Lismore Square,” Ms Darragh said.
The bank’s new branch will showcase “the latest in banking technology” including ATMs with instant deposit capability and a change machine.
Alongside the bank’s emergency assistance support for customers in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, it raised $2.87 million via the bank’s CanGive Flood Appeal for those affected.
In addition, the bank presented 216 local community organisations with a grant of up to $10,000 through the CommBank Flood Relief Grants program, totalling more than $4.87 million for ongoing recovery efforts.
Marking the first of the major banks to reopen, ANZ Lismore branch reopened on 26 April after adding a “back up branch” upstairs.
However, the bank aims to have a refurbished ground floor back up and running in early 2023.
NAB construction complete
NAB branch manager, Jessica Day, who announced the reopening in August, said it was a long road to recovery but customers were excited for a “sense of normality”.
NAB was the first of the big four banks to reopen its refurbished premises in Lismore on 9 August 2022.
“To have our purpose again is very exciting for us,” Ms Day said.
In May, the NAB Foundation announced 39 local and regional community groups across Australia would receive grants of up to $10,000 to help them prepare for or recover from natural disaster, delivering more than $500,000 in grants to customers in Lismore.
NAB chief executive officer, Ross McEwan, who visited the new branch said there was still a long way to go in rebuilding lives, homes, and businesses.
“Thousands of our customers have been hit hard and need ongoing support from government, banks and the wider community,” Mr McEwan said.
“I’m proud of the support our team has provided right across NSW and Queensland, including $4.7 million in disaster relief funding over three months.”
Westpac and St.George co-locate
Westpac and St.George announced a new and improved branch for customers in Lismore and the surrounding region, eight months after the floods, opening on 18 October, with both brands co-located in the same building for the first time in the city.
Investment in the new site was $1.3 million, with the new branch located on the corner of Brewster and Uralba Streets and replaced the bank’s temporary ‘bank-in-a-box’ service.
“Lismore has faced some significant challenges and I am proud of this investment which is a small step on the journey of rebuilding the city,” Westpac group chief customer engagement officer, Ross Miller, said.
“The new branch is going to be a great addition to the community, supporting our customers with their needs through improved access to digital technology, supported by the friendly faces they know and love.”
The banks delivered $2 million flood fund to support small-business customers with $3,000 grants in NSW and Queensland, with 122 grants provided to Lismore totalling $363,000.
[Related: South Australians offered $1k flood grant]