Floodwaters were the highest in memory say stranded Residents
By BELINDA SCOTT
THORA residents emerged yesterday as the floodwaters receded from bridge after bridge, with all residents expected to have access to Bellingen by yesterday evening.
Thora potter Stephen Allen, at Mudbilly Pottery, had to wait for council crews to repair the approaches to Leans Bridge on Sunday morning so he could get his pottery to Bellingen's Nexus Gallery for the opening of Sunday afternoon's appropriately named Celebrations art exhibition.
His partner Lorraine Leach said while Thora's bridges flooded 'every year' many residents said the weekend's floods hit the highest levels they had seen. On the coast, beaches were strewn with trees and branches swept down rivers and showed sand cliffs carved by pounding waves.
Rafts of debris were marooned against river structures, riversides were top-dressed with silt and sheets of water shimmered across low-lying paddocks. A jumble of caravans parked on high ground and savage new potholes were among yesterday's legacies of the weekend's floods.
Bellingen councillor Ralph Lynch said while there was still debris caught against Bellingen's Lavenders Bridge, which went underwater in the flood, the most serious concern for the shire in the town was the erosion of the park on the town side of Bellingen, upstream of Lavenders Bridge.
He said council had been planning work on this park, a Jazz festival venue, for some time, as each successive flood ate away more of the land, but had not had the money for the work required.
"We can't afford to lose any more of the park," Cr Lynch said. "We'll have to make it an absolutely high priority."
He said other landholders downstream had also lost land to river erosion, but on the plus side, work on the Waterfall Way between Dorrigo and Bellingen had held up well.
At Repton's Riverside Tourist Park, evacuated as a precaution on Friday as the floodwaters rose, visitors Don and Merryl Jordensen were relaxing in the sunshine in the freshly-cleaned park.
Caravan park owners Paul and Kathy Fancourt were pleased, but not surprised, by the success of the first test for their rock river wall, part of the work which won them and their park a Coffs Coast business award for environmental excellence last year.