The Button Collective playing along the Bruxner Highway to a family trapped in their house.
The Button Collective playing along the Bruxner Highway to a family trapped in their house. Marc Stapelberg

Higher levee would only make floods worse: Letter

NOT all the blame for record Richmond River flooding and over-topping of the Lismore levee embankment on March 31 should be levelled at Cyclone Debbie.

It stands to reason that levee construction and other man-made landfill barriers have narrowed up the valley and contribute to higher flooding and township crisis.

In former years of natural flow, much of the water build-up would have already been well on its way down river past Lismore.

This proved the case in cyclonic flooding of February 1954, when after three days and nights of torrential downpour, far outweighing Debbie, the floodwaters moved away more freely and caused far less devastation.

Recent notions of a higher levee would only exacerbate the problem, pushing even more destruction onto Lismore's west-side residents, while the levee remains a sitting duck for future breaching.

The questions now asked of planning officials should be directed as to what allowance has been factored into floodplain modelling for the intake of ferocious water velocity now penetrating the Richmond River from 60 years of urban sprawl since 1954.

Surely this rates well above all other reasons as the real cause to the rivers extraordinarily sudden rise, that left many of its victims in an unenviable state of shock and distress.

Nor does this debacle start and end at Lismore.

A similar narrowing of the Tintenbar, Cumbalum and Sandy Flat valleys, just north of Ballina, sees the area now lay in a state of decay, overburdened by decades of development on hillsides and ridges including hundreds of acres of floodplain reclamation from the Emigrant Creek tributary right through to the Richmond rivers mouth.

How sad it is to sit at the Ballina lookout and watch the rivers heart and soul being washed out to sea for weeks on end.

Sadder still is the official green light to continue.

John Hayter

Tintenbar



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