News

STORM WARNING: Isolated residents brace for more rain

Bungawalbin residents and visitors who had prior engagments before the floods, were air-lifted out by the SES and Rotorwing Helicopter Servicers.
Bungawalbin residents and visitors who had prior engagments before the floods, were air-lifted out by the SES and Rotorwing Helicopter Servicers. Natasha Smart-Morrison

THURSDAY 3pm: VILLAGES south-west of Ballina are bracing for more rain as the Bureau of Meteorology predicts up to 40mm of localised falls around the Northern Rivers.

The BOM has issued a warning for severe thunderstorms which are likely to produce heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding over the next several hours. 

SES crews are continuing to supply the cut-off communities of Bungawalbin and its surrounds with food and supplies following flash flooding in the area earlier this week.

Orders for food and other supplies are being taken by SES volunteers until 5pm this evening.

From left Frankie Morrison, Jeff Detweiler form Port Orchard, Washington USA visiting a resident, Candy Lawrence and Luke Morrison. The adults had to be air-lifted out of the area for appointments they had to keep.
From left Frankie Morrison, Jeff Detweiler form Port Orchard, Washington USA visiting a resident, Candy Lawrence and Luke Morrison. The adults had to be air-lifted out of the area for appointments they had to keep. Jimmy Malecki

Richmond/Tweed SES community engagement co-ordinator Janet Pettit described the community as "pretty resilient" citing the area had been isolated from flooding previously.

Ms Pettit said at this stage, the SES or BOM can't predict where the localised downpours will occur.

"It could dump anywhere, it's typical of this weather at the moment," Ms Pettit said.

 

WEDNESDAY 2pm: CANDY Lawrence and Natasha Smart-Morrison are neighbours in the Bungalwalbin area and currently have plenty of time to get to know each other better.

Thanks to torrential downpours the Northern Rivers residents have had to stay put while roads and access ways go underwater.

"When the Bungawalbin floods, the whole road becomes a series of 'islands'." Ms Lawrence said.

 

The only form of travel along Bungawalbin roads right now.
The only form of travel along Bungawalbin roads right now. Contributed

"I'm located on the middle 'island' which also contains the Bungy bushfire brigade shed, an area where the SES helicopter can land, and a cluster of residents including one family with a four-year-old son and another with two school-age children. I'd guess there are about 16 of us on this 'island'."

For Ms Smart-Morrison, her husband, two children and an array of farm animals this is their first flood.

"We only moved here last April. We have the SES coming tomorrow with some basics and fuel for the generator as (there's) not much sun, so (we have) to use that for back up power , as we are off the grid," she said.

"We have cows here and four dogs, all are safe as we are lucky our land has many higher spots and the house is fine.

"We did lose some bees as the creek came in very fast over night."

Some of the bees lost at the Bungawalbin property of Natasha Smart-Morrison
Some of the bees lost at the Bungawalbin property of Natasha Smart-Morrison Contributed

Ms Lawrence, a veteran of past floods, said when there is minor flooding in the Bungawalbin catchment their road is the first to go under.

"I've been here for ten years and from memory, we've had one or more floods every year but one," she said.

"This time it's rather different because we've got a major flood happening due to extreme local rainfall.

"We measured 10 inches of rain in just one 12-hour period, and there has been plenty more since then, so we've got a flood worse than the 2009 event, while nobody else around us has."

Ms Lawrence said she and other neighbours who have experienced past floods know when to keep an eye on the BOM page and when they see all the warnings they make mercy dashes to the shops to stock up on long life milk and stock feed.

"This time was unusual because we didn't really get the usual warnings," she said.

"The rainfall was so localised that we were the only ones badly affected and the BOM didn't really pick up on it.

"Because these successive low pressure systems are hanging over us without moving on, we're starting to run short of supplies and it looks like we'll be here quite a while yet."

Ms Lawrence said the 2013 floods were the worst for her as she had regular appointments to have chemotherapy to fight breast cancer.

"Fortunately the Woodburn SES came to my rescue and here I am four years later, still going strong," she said.

"The timing of my treatment was pretty important as I had quite advanced cancer and they only just caught it in time, so I really needed to keep to the right treatment schedule."

Bungawalbin residents have nothing but praise for their local SES volunteers knowing they can ring them whenever they are flooded in, for supplies and emergency trips.

"They evacuated a resident from another 'island' along our road just this morning because he had a medical issue, and tomorrow they'll be back bringing us supplies," Ms Lawrence said.

" It's perfect timing, because they're also flying one resident back in who's been stuck at the Rod and Reel (Woodburn pub) for days."

Richmond Tweed Deputy Region Controller Wayne Pettit confirmed the SES have activated an on-going system of assistance for residents from Bungawalbin to Rappville isolated by the floods.

"Crews will be take food and goods delivery orders from residents all day until 5pm on Mondays and Thursdays," he said.

SES operations have eased with the weather with two responses since Tuesday midnight.

Richmond/ Tweed crews responded to 21 calls for assistance and two flood rescues since midnight Monday morning.

And what do stranded residents do while they wait for the waters to recede?

"Frankie (daughter) misses school, she actually loves school work so we have been doing some reading, spellings and maths at home," Ms Smart-Morrison said.

"Riley (son) has just been in his Playstation a lot. Other than that (we play) games and (go on) long walks around the land with the dogs checking out the flooding."

Ms Lawrence, a writer, spends time on her work and social media as a support person for cancer sufferers.

"We can walk or drive to visit our neighbours on our own 'island but it calls for gumboots as our road turns into a bit of a river," she said.

 

The last can of cider that will have to last Natasha Smart Morrison until flood waters recede.
The last can of cider that will have to last Natasha Smart Morrison until flood waters recede. Contributed

Ms Smart-Morrison is hoping to see the end of the water sooner, rather than later as she has run out of a very important supply.

"I am down to my last can of cider and SES don't deliver alcohol."

 

Topics:  bungawalbin emergency services northern rivers floods ses



Cowardly attack on 83-year-old woman in Ballina

DRINK RIDING: A cyclist almost crashed into a police car while under the influence of alcohol last week.

Attacker stole her handbag and left her with a suspected broken hip

Lismore dad ordered to stand trial over son's murder

Lismore Court House. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star

Court hears that a single stab wound severed a critical artery

Detectives renew appeal for information about child approach

Police are appealing for information about a child approach incident.

Light blue car being driven by tattooed man aged 35-40

Local Partners