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Daly River residents return home two weeks after flooding evacuation

By Jesse Thompson, Tuesday February 13, 2018 - 12:41 EDT
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Nauiyu resident Dylan Minggun said he is glad to be home, but aware of the big job ahead. - ABC

Busloads of Nauiyu residents have returned home a fortnight after major flooding forced their evacuation from Daly River.

Daly River resident Dylan Minggun said he was happy to return home after , but said there was plenty of work to be done.

"I'll be cleaning and furniture needs to be put back in the houses. A lot of things got washed away like fridges and freezers," he said.

"I'll be working on the house more, a bit more cleaning to do."

By midday on Monday, most of the town had electricity and locals were unstacking furniture that was raised to avoid floodwater. Others were lining up for food assistance.

The odour of rotting meat was noticeable as fridges and freezers were aired out.

"The community's only come back for the past couple of hours and the mood is very, very positive," recovery coordinator John de Koning said.

"Some of the residents' [homes] were inundated — the worst was probably about one-and-a-half metres, down to just over the floor level — and we're looking at about 40-odd assets that were damaged to slightly damaged."

Damage mainly confined to lower-lying area

Most of the community's houses were surprisingly clean because local contractors had been working on the clean-up effort since the middle of the last week.

"The clean-up just involved constant 10, 12, 13 hour days using local contractors," Mr de Koning said.

The impact was less severe in some areas.

"Basically the damage was mainly confined to the bottom end of town, the lower ground," Mr de Koning said.

"[The damage] ranged from housing to the creche to the school — that took quite a large effort to get the school back up and running."

He said he hoped the school would be able to resume from Wednesday.

Jim Vivian, who manages the Green River Aboriginal Corporation and the Nauyiu Nambiyu Land Trust, spent the past two weeks boating into the town from .

He said it had been an "extremely hectic" time.

"You've got all the people coming in to do the follow ups on how the water's going, what effects it's having on the community, what effects it's having on power," he said.

"We do have a few crocodiles in this area and we did get one on the crocodile trap on the oval the other day."

He said the high presence of police in the community meant that there were no issues with looting.

Rising levels a blessing in disguise

This was Mr de Koning's third flood recovery in the Daly River region. He said it was also the easiest.

"We had a little bit more warning this time and people were a lot more prepared and moved their goods to higher ground, but also put some of their whitegoods on stands," he said.

"Everyone gelled together very, very quickly and knew exactly what they were doing.

"It wasn't quite as severe as the 2011 and 2015 floods."

Part of the reason was the rising floodwaters threatened the evacuation several days before the call was made.

"I wasn't there for the 2015 flood but apparently a lot of people just up and left," Mr Vivian said.

"This flood, they've lifted their beds up and they've put stuff up to keep it dry.

"They were very much more prepared this time than last time."


© ABC 2018

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