Island counting the cost of floods

WHEN Brian Glover checked the height of the Kalang River behind his Newry Island home about 6pm last Tuesday night he was not overly concerned.

When the electricity went off soon afterwards, he and his partner Maureen Nederlof still weren't fussed, heading for bed an hour or so later.

But by 10.30pm when the couple awoke, they were surprised to find their feet in water as they walked down the hallway, by 11.30pm they were evacuated, along with their cat, to the Urunga Golf Club wearing only their pyjamas.

They stayed there until noon on Wednesday when they were able to move on to stay with friends at Yellow Rock.

“There was just so much water and it came up so fast,” Mr Glover said.

“Six weeks ago it crept up but not this time. I think most people are still wandering around in shock.”

The couple have lost nearly everything, including much of Ms Nederlof's artwork, as have all their neighbours.

Newry Island was one of the hardest hit areas in last week's flood.

Every street is now lined with piles of furniture, bedding, fridges...entire households irreparably damaged when close to half a metre of water flowed through homes.

Raleigh resident David Batchelor said he and his two brothers and their wives had been helping their parents, Cleaton and Iris, clean up since first light on Wednesday morning.

“Ours was the first house on Newry Island 40 years ago. We've seen heaps of floods,” Mr Batchelor said.

“My brother fought his way down the highway on Tuesday night, he stopped to check on Mum and Dad. It was pitch black and he presumed they'd been evacuated.”

But they hadn't. When the local Fire Brigade dropped around in the early hours of Wednesday morning, the Batchelors were asleep and chose not to leave their home.

“It wasn't long after that and they saw the towels they'd put across the doors floating away.

“The water was six inches deep and rising. The whole experience was pretty traumatic. Imagine being in the pitch black with water all around - it was a very long night.”

And to make matters worse, four weeks ago, Mr Batchelor cancelled his contents insurance, after 30 years.

“It's all a bit of a tragedy - they're at least $10,000 out of pocket.”

In Urunga the town was quiet as most people were at home cleaning up.

The Disaster Recovery Centre was busy, as were local carpet cleaners Rodney Smith and Craig Stevenson.

“We've got two crews working flat out, we've had 3am starts,” Mr Stevenson said.

  • MORE than 400 people attended the three disaster reception centres over the weekend with 162 requiring welfare assistance from DoCs.

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