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Emergency supplies dropped to Molesworth residents cut off by flood damage

By Linda Hunt, Monday May 14, 2018 - 07:47 EST
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The Sheehans believe their local council should have offered more help. - ABC

Supplies have been helicoptered in to flood-stranded residents north of Hobart as they face a fourth day of being cut off.

The small community of Molesworth has been isolated since Thursday night after nearby bridges collapsed, limiting access by road and to rescue crews.

As the several Molesworth properties were still without power late on Sunday and there was concern for residents with medical conditions.

Molesworth residents Paul and Susan Sheehan have been stuck on their property, forcing them to trek across several waterways and heavily damaged bridges to access the outside world.

Like other residents, they have been told their power will not go back on until the bridge is fixed, and there has been little information as to when that might be.

Making matters worse, Mr Sheehan suffers from Parkinson's Disease.

His wife is a GP at Lindisfarne and left him alone on Sunday to search for medication at several chemists in the Derwent Valley.

She said it had been a challenging time and criticised the Derwent Valley Council's response.

"We haven't had much help," Dr Sheehan told the ABC.

"On Friday it seemed like we were bothering them [the council].

"Saturday was spent just pulling cars out of mess and trying to recover everything, make sure the animals were alright."

Dr Sheehan said one chemist told her there was a problem with her husband's script, and refused to supply the medication.

She said she would have to leave him again on Monday to go to work and feared the bridge repair works could take weeks.

Other Molesworth residents have been cut off from their families who have been forced to take refuge in Hobart.

Simon Ellis has three young children and with the power still out, he had resorted to sending his family to the city.

"They've had enough of dad's candlelight cooking," he said.

"So they've gone into town for a hot shower and a better menu. I've got a generator to keep food frozen and some gas to keep cooking."

"We've been really lucky as a family, but I know along the road there's been livestock lost and pets lost.

"I think the water just came up so quickly people had no chance to save them. With the wind you couldn't hear anything that was happening anyway. It's devastating."

Bryony Geeves lives on a property on Glen Dhu Road at Molesworth.

"There are a lot of bridges up Glen Dhu Road which I've never really paid attention to until now. Several of them have been washed away," Ms Geeves said.

"So there are people kind of stuck all over the place."

When the storm came through, her husband was working on Tasmania's west coast.

"I'm seven months pregnant and we've got a two-year-old, so we were home on our own," she said.

"The first night was really scary, Thursday night the wind was so crazy it was quite terrifying, I've never been shaken like that.

"I was out moving livestock in the rain and it was just kind of coming sidewards."

"The thing was, SES (State Emergency Service) didn't know how bad it was up here, because I think the people who live up here are pretty self-sufficient," Ms Geeves said.

"But we've got a few high-risk people up here, people with chronic illnesses and all sorts of things, so I was more worried for some of those people."

The SES made contact with several households in the area, going in on foot to check on residents and on Sunday was confident all residents were safe and well.

Bridge damage bill 'in millions"

Derwent Valley Mayor Martyn Evans is warning the it could be months before bridges are repaired and could cost millions of dollars.

He said the council was working to do everything it could and he understood residents' concerns.

"They've been very severely hit out there at Lachlan and also at Molesworth particularly, where all that water just congregated and then got to the river and it's got nowhere to go," he said.

"So I'm feeling for the residents out there without their services, their infrastructure.

"The Premier was on the phone, was speaking with senators all day Friday … talking about the emergency fund, if it is available for these sort of things.

"The impost of half a dozen bridges and roads, could actually start flowing into the millions of dollars."

The will run into many millions of dollars.

RACT Insurance is confident only a handful of households have been impacted by safety concerns.

"At this juncture we've got somewhere in the vicinity of 600-odd claims for the event, and we're only talking a very small proportion that are in that very severe category," chief executive Trent Sayers said.


© ABC 2018

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