Gundagai St in Coffs Harbour was turned into a rushing river.
Gundagai St in Coffs Harbour was turned into a rushing river. Coffs Coast Advocate

Total disaster zone

TEN minutes was all it took to turn lush backyards and peaceful houses in the centre of Coffs Harbour into sea of brown water and floating garbage, said residents yesterday.

In an eerie replay of the November 1996 storm which turned the centre of the city into a disaster zone, many houses which were flooded 13 years went under again about 3pm yesterday as heavy rain following a high tide to prevent storm water from draining away.

High tide of 1.71m was about 1pm yesterday.

This time the disaster included Bellingen and Urungaas two days of rain pelted the region, closing roads and bridges, submerging low-lying areas, washing away cars, trapping vulnerable residents in their homes and hampering emergency services.

Karangi plumber Kevin Cramp said his brand new utility and all his tools went under water in Gundagai Street as he attempted to reach Narranga Public School to pick up his grandchildren.

Michael Brookes and Mark Stuart spent the afternoon in water up to their shoulder as they ckecked for elderly people trapped in houses.

That's the fastest I've ever seen it come up,” said Allan Street.

“It took 10 minutes.

“It is about time Coffs Harbour City Council took their finger out and cleaned out Coffs Creek, said an angry Anthony Jacobs, surveying the shoulder-deep water at the intersection of Robin Street and Gundagai Street.

“They should ignore the EPA.”

Heather Clague has lived in Gundagai Street for nearly 60 years and as she and her golden Labrador Ruby watched the water swirl around their steps, she said she had seen her yard flood only twice - in 1996 and yesterday

Students at Narranga Public School were marooned and parents caused gridlock in surrounding streets as they tried to each their children.

Coffs Harbour city councillor and Gundagai St resident Jennifer Bonfield. who fought for the rights of residents after the 1996 storm, said the situation was about the same yesterday.

By 5pm waves were washing against shopfronts in Harbour Drive and children standing on street furniture benches looked like surfers.

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