Monday, January 31, 2011

2011 TENTERFIELD FLOODS - The Aftermath

Tenterfield became isolated on Tuesday 10.1.2011 and with further rainfall expected the same night things were not looking good for the town or the Shire.

The New England and Bruxner Highways; Douglas, Scott, Manners, High and Naas Streets; Rouse St North; Mt Lindsay, Washpool Creek, Geyers, Old Ballendean, Sunnyside Loop, Sunnyside Platform, Mt McKenzie, Gunyah, Pyes Creek, Plains Station & Hootens Roads and Harrigans Lane were all closed!

Molesworth Street became the Highway - it being the only access available to get from one side of town to the other ... that was until a fire truck became stuck in a rather large hole on the bridge!

Several houses in town were evacuated as were a number of rural properties.

With heavy rains having fallen in late 2010 and again, earlier this month, the Tenterfield Shire (all 728,890 hectares of it) had been declared a natural disaster area.

Well there's no arguing that point now. (we live a the southern end of town and between 4 and 11th January we had 388mm).

Stories keep coming in: farm machinery moved to higher ground whilst flood water creep in behind you. A race back down the hill to retrieve important papers from the house. Historical effects collected by family members over the centuries gone or just out in the paddock covered in silt. Hay salvaged from sheds. Extensive damage to Vineyards. Commercial crops under water - some salvaged, others not - roads washed away so precious crops couldn't be taken to market anyway.

As the waters kept rising we kept watching for major damage - the folk on the west side could not believe what was happening - Bluff, Deepwater, Mole and Duraresq Rivers all joining forces - 5m or more - rising well above the 1976 records.

No power (poles dragged into the river and taken away who knows where), no landlines or mobile phones - so no means of communication with the outside world. Bruxner Highway at Mingoola gone. Power lines and fencing looking like spaghetti lying over the paddock and roads - Bitumen tossed by the wayside complete with their double white lines for company.

Now, some 21 days later, residents are still walking around shaking their heads. We hear of food, water and fuel supplies still being airlifted to Wangrah Wilderness Lodge down the Bluff River and to other isolated properties around Mingoola where a 2klm stretch of trees were ripped out by a wall of water.

We might have bright blue skies, hot sunny days and all looks passable.

Well take a closer look - rubbish still hangs off fences, scattered sheds - flattened, lying in places far from their origins. Smiling faces hide the weariness and unknown costs. Roads, bridges - damaged beyond belief - not enough resources to get it fixed straight away. The landscape - changed with a click of your finger. It will be many, many years before this area heals completely from the wounds inflicted by nature.
More Photos can be seen in our Gallery:

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