As Billinudgel’s resilient residents cleaned up and counted their losses on Sunday, at least one business said that an earlier warning from the SES would have saved them thousands of dollars in stock loss and damage to clients’ cars.
Phil from BilliAuto points to a spot on the side of the building, almost a metre high, which is where he said the rain ended up in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Phil said he received an SMS advising him of a minor flood alert at about 8pm on Saturday evening but by the time he went down to take a look, soon after, he was unable to get close to his workshop.
‘It was already over the major flood level when I came down here. The water came up incredibly fast,’ he said.
‘It isn’t as if we hadn’t prepared for a minor flood, but if I’d had more warning I could’ve got clients’ cars out of here,’ Phil told Echonetdaily.
Phil said he did not receive a major flood warning SMS until after 10pm.
Floodwaters also caught drinkers at the Billinudgel pub off guard, although publican Kenny said it was only a ‘two-board’ flood, pointing to the timber panels on the wall to indicate the height of the water.
‘The 2005 flood came to the top of the bar,’ he told Echonetdaily.
Several drinkers said they’d had to reluctantly retire upstairs after they were unable to get outside to their cars at the end of the evening.
‘It was at its worst around midnight,’ said Kenny.
But the pub was trading again by Sunday lunchtime, with no evidence of any water in sight.
One of the drinkers, Adrian from Main Arm was celebrating having rebuilt a fence in a few hours earlier in the day.
‘My missus woke me up to tell me the cows were out and I must’ve left the gate open,’ he told Echonetdaily.
‘But I hadn’t left it open at all – the whole flaming fence had washed away,’ he said.
Adrian showed me photos of the fence, washed into a pile at one corner of the paddock.
Ever resourceful, like so many north coast farmers, he got his backhoe running and used it to pound the fence posts back into place before stringing some more barbed wire between them and rounding up the cattle.
Further up Wilfred Street, the Humble Pie shop fared better, with no water intrusion, although they had experienced a run on pies.