Natural disaster declaration bid by Liverpool Plains council

Two storms leaves houses, waterpipes, rail and roads smashed

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Silt and dirt cover paddocks off Werris Creek Road after storm rain washed through paddocks, knocking down fences and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars damage to rail, road and water infrastructure. Photo by Kylie Raines.

Silt and dirt cover paddocks off Werris Creek Road after storm rain washed through paddocks, knocking down fences and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars damage to rail, road and water infrastructure. Photo by Kylie Raines.

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Storm mayhem at Werris Creek

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Rain was welcome, but not this type of violent rain.

Kylie Raines had been hand-feeding her 20 miniature horses for two years during the drought that has hit hard on the Liverpool Plains and recently put up new fencing on her family's Werris Creek property.

But on Friday and then Saturday two storms sent water almost two metres high through part of her property, washing away the new fences, and putting her in panic mode to save her miniature horses.

Tonnes of dirt, silt, gravel and ballast was washed from recent major upgrade of the railway that was set to put Werris Creek back on the major railway system map.

But 100mm of rain on Friday, followed by another storm a little further away on Saturday, rolled a torrent down new causeways, that quickly built up debris, and sent floodwaters gushing over areas never intended for run-off.

New railway works ripped apart at Werris Creek.

New railway works ripped apart at Werris Creek.

"We couldn't believe it, the floodwater came over the highest part of the road," Kylie said.

Kylie, who is part of The Land's Livestock advertising team, said it was only because her house and her father's house were built on small stilts that their houses weren't badly damaged. Houses nearby were not so lucky. Meanwhile in Wallabadah storm run-off badly damaged two houses.

"It is something I never want to go through again," she said. Luckily a few of her horses were isolated on a small island as floodwaters raged around them

The storm flood also took out a section Werris Creek's water supply, that the council has been working around the clock to fix.

Kylie showing off one her miniature horses. The horses were extremely lucky to survive a massive flashflood at Werris Creek.

Kylie showing off one her miniature horses. The horses were extremely lucky to survive a massive flashflood at Werris Creek.

The damage from the storms has been so large in parts of the area that Liverpool Plains Shire council mayor Andrew Hope has asked the NSW Emergency Services department to declare the area a Natural Disaster area, so that Commonwealth funds could flow. Two Government MPs had already toured the damage.

"We lost almost 6m of our piping from the dam to town and we are working over-time to fix the pipe," he said. Almost 3m of dirt was gouged underneath the pipe as well. "There's damage to ovals, roads, grain silos and the railway." The train line to Narrabri was taken out in the storms and the Australian Railway Track Corporation (ARTC) was investigating damage to new railway works that could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Also at Wallabadah, a couple of houses had been badly damaged. "We have also seen a lot of water infrastructure destroyed," he said.

"The only good thing is that there is some water running in the creeks that will benefit local farmers."

A Natural Disaster declaration would enable council to pay for emergency reconstruction and affected property holders to seek compensation. He urged anyone who had had property damaged due to the storms to contact council.

Werris Creek has about 1000 people and its citizens were rationing water carefully from the reservoir until the water supply was reconnected, hopefully by the end of the week.

Storm damage at Werris Creek. Photos by Kylie Raines.

Storm damage at Werris Creek. Photos by Kylie Raines.

He said there would be an investigation into why the new causeway failed and sent floodwaters onto properties.

"Still it's great to see some farms get that rain. It's been a long time coming."

Kylie Raines said: "It wasn't a lot of fun. If we hadn't have stayed at home on Saturday we could have lost some of our horses. Amazingly they are all fine, no colic. Now I'm just looking at paddocks full of gravel and silt. When the water came down it sounded like a freight train."

Another emergency happened just before the storm water hit. "Our little daschund Meeka disappeared but we found her just before the water hit all around the house."

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