Coffs Coast gets off lightly

AS QUEENSLAND remained swamped in floodwaters, the Coffs Coast got off lightly with just minor to moderate flooding recorded.

As Grafton waited to see if its levee bank would hold back the rising Clarence River yesterday, further south the flood focus was on the Bellinger River.

Falls of more than 120 millimetres in the 36 hours to 9am saw the river peak at a minor flood level of 6.25 metres in Bellingen.

The river rose above five metres at Thora, while the 500 or so residents living in the Darkwood area spent the day cut off from the outside world.

Emergency services yesterday evacuated the Bellinger River Tourist Park at Repton amid fears the incoming high tide would inundate the campground.

Park manager Tracey Patterson said most of the families camping across the park’s 70 sites had either moved to higher ground, cut their holiday short or sought accommodation at other caravan parks.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry and really is a precautionary measure,” Ms Patterson said.

As campers in the park packed up and moved on, the Bellinger was lapping just metres from their campsites.

It broke its banks and flooded low-lying areas late yesterday.

“Even though the gauges further upstream indicate the river is holding steady, we have been advised more rain will fall over the catchment,” Urunga SES unit controller Merv Rose said.

“When the river reaches these heights the incoming high tide really is an unknown quantity. You just never know how it will affect the height of the river when you are this close to the river mouth.”

SES volunteers helped campers shift their caravans, while campers on the waterfront took no chances.

“I’ve holidayed here for the past 38 years and this is only the second time we’ve been evacuated. You just have to look at the river to know it’s still rising,” said Matthew Taylor of Sydney.

Fellow camper Lorraine Coleman of Tamworth said campers had been on flood watch after consecutive days of heavy rain.

“We have watched the river slowly climb since the weekend. It's better not to take the risk,” she said.

A Bureau of Meteorology flood warning advised more rain is expected to fall today and tomorrow.

“The situation is being closely monitored and revised predictions will be issued if necessary,” a bureau spokesman said.

A high near New Zealand is maintaining a humid east to north-easterly airstream over NSW.

A trough off the southern Queensland coast is creating rainfall across the state’s northeast.

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