The massive February 28 flooding event for the north of the Byron Shire is just starting to ease, and the full extent is still unclear.
The weather event and flooding covered Gypie in Qld, down to Grafton, in NSW.
Locally, residents sought refuge on rooftops, roads and bridges were damaged and demolished, the M1 highway was blocked, a large landslip occurred in Federal, and livestock have drowned.
The mobile phone service was cut in Mullum, and as of Tuesday had not been restored.
While the cost of property damage is yet to be counted, it appears considerably more than any previous flood in memory.
Caught by surprise
Lismore’s 2022 flood levels were above both 1974 and 1954 records, according to www.bom.gov.au, after the ‘Wilsons River at Lismore peaked at 14.40 metres around 3pm on Monday’.
And it caught both authorities and residents by surprise – BoM flooding alerts were still being listed as ‘moderate’ for the Brunswick River and Marshalls Creek at Mullumbimby and Billinudgel on Sunday at 11pm.
By 4.33am, a major flood warning was issued for Billinudgel and Mullum. Then at 4.53am, evacuation advice was given for Billinudgel residents.
In the weeks leading up to February 28, it has been very wet, with consistent rain in the region.
On Monday morning, Ocean Shores residents evacuated to the Golf Club, while in Mullum, impacted and rescued residents gathered in Council’s foyer and then later the town’s RSL.
Far North Coast camaraderie alive and well
Yet through the shock and loss, there was camaraderie. Offers of holiday homes for displaced families were posted online, and neighbours assisted the elderly and their pets into boats to escape the floodwaters.
As expected, the sheer enormity of the disaster overwhelmed emergency services.
North Coast residents were heavily impacted five years ago almost to the day – on March 28, 2017 – by Ex-Cyclone Debbie. And just two years ago, flooding also caused damage to the region.