Coutts Crossing man Peter Mahoney and his children Brenten and Sara inspect flood water that has stranded them.
Coutts Crossing man Peter Mahoney and his children Brenten and Sara inspect flood water that has stranded them. Debrah Novak

Families cut off in big wet

FROM fires to floods, Coutts Crossing man Peter Mahoney is all too familiar with the extreme weather patterns wreaking havoc across the country.

Speaking yesterday from the edge of the washed out Poly Bridge at Coutts Crossing, he said while the floodwaters had cut his friends at Shannondale off from town, his mother and stepfather were still battling smoke and a high fire danger in Whittlesea, Victoria.

“The smoke is still pretty bad down there, they couldn't believe it when I told them about the rain,” he said.

Even with the Nymboida and Orara rivers receding yesterday, Nymboida SES unit controller John Hall said about 130 families were thought to be isolated at Shannondale, Levenstrath and around Coutts Crossing.

Yesterday, the SES extracted two people from behind a flood wall at Lower Kangaroo Creek Road and organised a food drop for a family stranded at Kungala.

At Wooli, floodwaters cut off access to Sandy Crossing on Monday afternoon. The road was clear again yesterday.

Mr Hall said heavy falls caught people by surprise on Monday night and caused the Nymboida River to rise six metres, while falls at Dorrigo and Coffs Harbour flowed into Clarence feeder rivers such as the Kangaroo and Towallum rivers, cutting off low-lying roads around Coutts Crossing. He expected roads to be underwater until at least Friday.

He thanked SES volunteers for their hard work over the past two days.

“They go out in all kinds of weather to help out,” he said.

Kristy Williams, of Grafton, rushed groceries to the South Grafton air strip yesterday for a SES food drop after discovering her parents, Mark and Trish, and her 10-year-old sister Sharna, were stranded at their Kungala property.

She said her grandmother had died only a few days earlier, with the family postponing yesterday's funeral as a result of the flooding.

“They're usually prepared for it (the rain) but because so many things were on their mind, they weren't this time,” she said.

Despite the deluge, SES Clarence Nambucca controller Peter Stevens said the Clarence River was not expected to rise.

“It won't impact on the Clarence ... it's a big catchment, the Orara is a small catchment and floods quickly,” he said.

Residents requiring assistance should phone the SES on 132 500.



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