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NSW floods turn Crescent Head village into an 'island' for 12 days

Tuesday March 30, 2021 - 04:01 EDT

A community on the New South Wales Mid North Coast has described how they came together for two weeks while isolated in the recent flood event. 


The township of Crescent Head, east of Kempsey, was cut off for 12 days with no access in or out via Crescent Head Road.


Principal of the Crescent Head Public School Cameron Upcroft said the town became an island.


"Between Thursday a week ago and this Monday, Crescent Head has been completely cut off to the outside world," he said.


"The Maria River coming up from the Hastings River has met at the Corduroy with the Belmore River and the Macleay River.


"It?s meant we?ve had water all around us on all four sides and Crescent Head got cut off as an island."


Community bands together in crisis


Mr Upcroft said the surf club's inflatable rescue boats delivered the town's basic survival supplies for residents.


"All the contact with the outside world like food, water and mail was cut off and had to be brought in by boat," he said.


"At that time, we saw the community really lift and come together as part of an island community would."


Mr Upcroft said members of the school community experienced major property losses from the floods.


"We have several families that have lost homes in our school zone," he said.


"The families that were in the village were cut off but were fine.


"But down Maria River Road and Beranghi Road, we had families that had lost houses and lost livestock."


School becomes evacuation centre


Families isolated by floodwaters were transported to the public school which was used as an evacuation centre.


Rescue trips were a team effort by emergency services and the Kempsey-Crescent Head Surf Lifesaving Club using its rescue boats and an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) bike.


"The SES were co-ordinating with the surf club and the surf club were bringing people up from the Corduroy [at Crescent Head Road] via boat," Mr Upcroft said.


"We were going down and picking them up in an ATV quad vehicle which was driving into floodwaters to get them and bringing them up to the school."


Kempsey-Crescent Head Surf Lifesaving volunteer and school employee, Renee Marchment, operated the ATV vehicle during the floods.


"We were able to access the safety vehicles we have including two inflatable rescue boats and the ATV quad bike which is new to the club," Ms Marchment said.


?I did a lot of transportation of people, pharmaceuticals, helped with the medical evacuations that we had and getting food and fuel into the village.


"We also assisted a lovely family that has been evacuated from Maria River Road that had three dogs come along with them so we were part of that as well."


Return to normal, for some


Mr Upcroft says with the floodwaters receding and the road into town reopened, the Crescent Head community can get back to business.


"For the majority of our families, it will hopefully be a return to normal as they get supplies back," he said.


"But our rural families are still going to be quite affected as they fix their properties and fences and those kinds of things."


Ms Marchment said she was glad to see access to Crescent Head open again after almost two weeks of isolation.


"I love our community ? we are very lucky with the people we live here with," she said.


"Obviously we are glad it's open again because it's just eased that stress everyone was experiencing.


?But I think we have been able to prove even in a natural disaster we can come together with our emergency services and community and get through."







- ABC

© ABC 2021

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