Nikki Morgan-Smith reunited with daughter Morgan May at Coraki yesterday by the SES helicopter.
Nikki Morgan-Smith reunited with daughter Morgan May at Coraki yesterday by the SES helicopter.

Mercy dash by copter reunites family

By PAUL BIBBY A YOUNG mother who was separated from her baby girl for three days by raging floodwaters was airlifted in for an emotional reunion by State Emergency Service workers yesterday.

Nikki Morgan-Smith had%only expected to be away from her daughter, Morgan May Haughy, for a day when the 18-month-old left Federal with her grandparents on Saturday for a trip to Coraki.

But, when the Richmond%River burst its banks, all roads in and out of Coraki were blocked, leaving the mother and baby and grandparents on opposite sides of the churning floodwaters.

With the SES warning that the town could be isolated for up to a week, and the mobile phone network failing, Nikki started to worry.

"It probably sounds silly but I just couldn't handle being away from her for that long," she said.

"I was willing to swim there if I had to." After three days her worry had turned to panic and her mother, Shelagh Morgan, contacted the Richmond/Tweed region headquarters of the SES to ask if there was anything they could do.

Within hours the young mother boarded a helicopter at Goonellabah on her way to%Coraki.

"They were amazing. I drove up to Goonellabah and the guys had me on a helicopter within 20 minutes," Nikki said.

The helicopter touched down on a dry block of land near the Club Hotel where Morgan was happily playing with her grandparents.

"It was just a huge relief to see her. There were lots of%cuddles," Nikki said

"I'm so grateful to the SES guys for flying me in. I don't know what I would have done if I'd had to be apart from Morgan for another three days."

But the State Emergency Service rescuers were not%satisfied with solving only one family crisis.

After dropping off Ms Morgan-Smith they picked up a%local grandmother whose family was in difficulty and flew her directly to Casino to be with her grandchildren.

"The good thing about this situation is that everyone pulls together," a spokeswoman for the Richmond/Tweed SES said.

"We get a huge kick out of helping people and that's why the volunteers come from so far away to help out.

"If there's a silver lining to something like this, that would be it." The Sydney Morning Herald



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