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1948 floods remembered

FLOOD PHOTOS: Some of the images in the newspapers of the 1948 flood that affected Wardell, Broadwater, Woodburn and Coraki. Image courtesy National Library of Australia.
FLOOD PHOTOS: Some of the images in the newspapers of the 1948 flood that affected Wardell, Broadwater, Woodburn and Coraki. Image courtesy National Library of Australia. Contributed

WHENEVER anyone mentions floods in the Lower Richmond, people can quickly remember the 1974 and 1954 events.

It is 65 years, however, since the 1948 floods ravaged our little part of the world and newspapers of the time faithfully recorded the event.

During the period from June 15 to 18, the Lower Richmond was inundated, with rain causing such high levels of flooding it broke previous records by 18 inches from the 1945 flood, according to the postmaster of the time, Mr Lewis.

"Worst hit in the mid-Richmond flood area is Woodburn ... where the population tonight is crowded into two areas, each of about four acres in extent," The Canberra Times reported on June 18, 1948.

It goes on to report that Broadwater received a double whammy with not only flooding but a small cyclone "which wrecked the hotel and two residences and damaged the post office. The top storey of the hotel was lifted 50 to 100 feet into the air ... and landed in a paddock 200 yards away."

There were many stories of trauma and courage of the period, as well as funny little anecdotes.

"I travelled the first stage of my journey into the flood area in a 'Herald' plane this morning," the Sydney Morning Herald's special reporter wrote.

"The first thing I was asked when I landed at Evans Head was 'Who won the Test?"

Residents had not received any news for five days.

Woodburn patrons of the local hotel weren't going to be stopped from having a beer, however, and were reported as standing at the bar in ankle-deep water while taking refreshments.

The Coraki area saw dairy buildings and farm equipment ruined, as well as heavy stock losses.

At Wardell and Broadwater, cane crops were damaged or destroyed.

On June 19, reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, the river at Coraki recorded floodwater at 19 feet (nearly six metres).

One heroic story recorded in The Northern Miner, dated June 21, 1948, was that of the mother of 15-month-old twins Beverly and Linette Scurr of Coraki.

"Fifteen-months-old twin girls, Beverly and Linette Scurr, strayed from their home close to the river," the paper reported.

"The mother heard Linette screaming and, rushing from her home, saw Beverly being swept out in the stream.

"She dived into the flood and brought the baby ashore unconscious.

"The child was out of danger tonight."

The flood eventually dissipated and was considered the largest to hit the small towns of the Lower Richmond until 1954 and 1974.


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