Sawtell cinema damaged in floods

SAWTELL Cinema was forced to evacuate patrons from the building after storm water rose from the back lane into the cinema's auditorium on Tuesday.

Theatre manager Col Brissett said about 30 people were enjoying a screening of Slumdog Millionaire when he had to stop the film about 5.40pm on Tuesday.

He said there were shrieks from audience members as the lights went up and they realised the cinema was filling with water.

Chest-high water soaked carpets, submerged seating and damaged toilets and electrical equipment in the 1956 building.

The theatre organ, speakers, lighting, the motors powering the masking of the screen have been either submerged or extensively damaged, with leaks from the roof adding to damage from stormwater flowing in from the back lane.

Mr Brissett's grandparents bought the community hall on the site in 1941 and converted it from a community hall to a cinema.

The 400-seat theatre is expected to be closed for repairs for some time.

Yesterday Mr Brissett, whose car was parked in the back lane and was submerged, was awaiting insurance assessors.

He said many of Sawtell's old buildings had suffered damage on Tuesday with 'a waterfall' through the kitchen of Fig and Bean restaurant and 'a river' running from the back to the front of the Shimmers cafe.

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