Kyogle sifts through flood wreckage
By RACHEL AFFLICK
KYOGLE residents yesterday sifted through the wreckage of their worst flood in 50 years.
A path of devastation was left in the wake of the flood which swamped the town on Friday night, washing away cars, damaging houses and prompting NSW State Emergency Services Minister Nathan Rees to declare the area a Natural Disaster zone.
The declaration means a range of assistance will be available for residents and business owners whose properties were damaged.
At least 80 residents had to be evacuated from their homes at 'The Flat' the same area where several people lost their lives in the 1954 flood.
But yesterday, sifting through the broken and battered remains of their worldly possessions, The Flat residents Rex Brown and Wendy Hale said they felt 'numb'.
Their house had been filled with surging floodwaters which acted like a whirlpool, churning up everything in its path.
"Ninety-five per cent of my possessions are gone. I've been through huge floods in my lifetime, but nothing as devastating as this," Rex said.
Kyogle Fire Brigade station commander Bob Crawford said everyone had been caught unaware by the flood.
He said a storm from 11.30 on Friday night added substantially to 300mm of rainfall in 12 hours, and raised the river from a very minor to a very major flood level.
Overnight people were evacuated and by Saturday morning businesses and homes were completely submerged, with the river reaching a peak of 18 metres the second-highest level on record.
Yesterday, the SES and NSW Fire Brigade gathered in the town to help with the clean-up effort. DoCS staff were also on the ground assisting members of the community hit the hardest by the flood.
Kyogle mayor Ernie Bennett said yesterday he wouldn't be surprised if the damage bill reached $15 million.
"It's an absolute disaster," Cr Bennett said. "With my own personal situation I've had cattle washed away and fences washed away. A lot of people are doing it tough."
Most damage was done to homes, but roads and about 10 bridges were also destroyed.