Flood ruins roads

AS residents of the Clarence and Coffs Harbour mopped up yesterday after Tuesday's deluge, the Clarence Valley Council began to count the cost to its road network and other infrastructure.

Council deputy general manager Rob Donges said council staff would need to wait until the water receded in order to undertake a full assessment of the damage, but believed it could be substantial.

He said roads in an area stretching from Wooli to Glenreagh appeared to have been damaged, with some losing bitumen sheeting.

Some of the roads were damaged in minor flooding in February.

Mr Donges said he expected that once the level of damage was assessed, the council would apply for NSW Natural Disaster Relief Assistance.

Late yesterday, 24 roads and/or bridges within the Clarence Valley remained closed and drivers using a number of others were advised to proceed with caution.

Clarence-Nambucca State Emergency Services media officer Rob Armstrong said his office had been busy over the past two days, but most of the activity related to flooding south of the Clarence.

“It looks like there will be no problems in the Clarence,” he said.

In minor flooding in February, a number of homes in the Coutts Crossing and Kangaroo Creek areas were cut-off and had to receive food drops from the SES. There has been no call for food drops this week.

Yesterday, Grafton firefighters and paramedics were recuperating after a long night helping out in Coffs Harbour and surrounding flood-ravaged towns.

Grafton Fire Brigade captain Greg McLennan said fire crews left Grafton at 6pm on Tuesday and did not return until 6.45am yesterday.

The firefighters were part of a NSW Fire Brigades strike force, with crews from as far as Tenterfield, Ballina and Tamworth helping southern crews.

With Urunga isolated by floodwaters, Grafton firefighters were called in to help evacuate more than 100 residents from Newry Island, who were transported to the bowling club in Urunga, but it was no easy task.

“We had to get through water 15 to 18 inches deep at least,” Captain McLennan said. “Water was flowing through houses, cars were pointing the wrong way in the street ... it was devastating.”

Firefighters remained on call last night in case SES or police required further assistance in the Coffs Harbour area.

Yesterday, the Rees Government declared a natural disaster following the second major floods in the Coffs Harbour area in less than two months.

Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan and State Emergency Service (SES) director-general Murray Kear visited the region to inspect damage and thank emergency services for hard work.

“The natural disaster declaration will cover Coffs Harbour, Nambucca and Bellingen local government areas, which have experienced major flooding in the past two days,” Mr Whan said.

He said the natural disaster declaration could be extended.

'Water was flowing through houses.'

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