Desperate for help
GAS cylinders, food and stockfeed were air-dropped to Coopers Creek residents by helicopter yesterday in an operation to resupply those cut off since February 6.
Resourceful locals have also tied a safety line across Coopers Creek opposite Jasper Hall, providing an alternative foot access path.
Approximately 120 residents from 30-40 rural properties are stranded in the isolated area due to a severe landslip along a 100m stretch of road that remains at risk of "catastrophic collapse".
The Richmond-Tweed SES branch is supervising the airdrops, with a second round of resupply drops scheduled for Thursday.
Richmond-Tweed SES acting region controller Kaylene Turner said the helicopter had also provided evacuations.
"We've currently had four people who have been airlifted out, and they were one-way flights out and they've decided to go and stay elsewhere until more sustainable access is restored," Ms Turner said.
Yet while Upper Coopers Creek Rd remains officially closed to both pedestrian and vehicle traffic, some are still crossing the landslip on foot despite warnings from Byron Shire Council.
Upper Coopers Creek teacher Jenny Wright has been crossing the landslip twice a day on foot or bicycle to get to work.
"I'm a single parent and if I don't get to work we don't eat," Ms Wright said.
While she welcomed the supply drops, Ms Wright questioned the use of helicopters when council had not yet created a viable pedestrian route, leaving residents to create their own.
"To all of us it just seems an astounding use of resources. It's coming up to two weeks now and we see so much money spent on helicopters that could be used to create a pedestrian way," she said. "There's still kids who can't go to school, work is incredibly inconvenient and our rubbish can't go out."
While an access road through private land has been created, the landowners have restricted its use to emergencies only as it travels right past their lounge room.
"They rightfully fear that it won't just be for emergency vehicles. They know what a big job this is going to be and how slow-moving Byron Council is, and they fear that their road will become the main way into the valley," Ms Wright said.