Remembering Murwillumbah floods

TWO years on after the January 2008 floods, Chillingham mower repairman Brian Foran is back in his clean workshop and back in business.
TWO years on after the January 2008 floods, Chillingham mower repairman Brian Foran is back in his clean workshop and back in business. Crystal Spencer

EXACTLY two years ago Brian Foran was six feet under.

Under water that is.

This is the second anniversary of the January 2008 flood which devastated much of Murwillumbah and surrounding areas.

Close to 50cm of rain was dumped in some areas in just two days.

One of the hardest hit by the sudden downpour was Mr Foran’s lawnmower repair workshop and his home in Chillingham.

Flood water six feet deep ruined his workshop and damaged his house, leaving him out of business for six months with a massive clean-up bill.

“Two years on and I’m still cleaning up some bits and pieces now,” Mr Foran said yesterday.

“It’s almost all done now.

“Those floods are by far the worse I’ve seen in my 20 years on the Tweed. I hope we don’t see anything that bad for another 20 years.”

Nearly all the machinery in his workshop was destroyed when the floods hit.

He only had time to jack up one of his cars on the hoist. Five others were lost, along with six months of business when he had to shut his doors.

“It was a long time, but it was necessary, unfortunately,” Mr Foran said.

The Bindaree Place resident will rid his workplace of the last remnants of the January 2008 floods when he disposes of wrecked lawn mowers this week.

“I’ve got a skip coming this week so I can finally get rid of the final rubbish,” he said.

Following the flood he received help from the community, including local electrician David Hammill, who showed up to replace all the power points free of charge in Mr Foran’s home.

“The people were just wonderful,” Mr Foran said.

Murwillumbah recorded a rainfall of 222mm between 9am Friday, January 4 2008, and 9am Sunday, January 6 2008.

Bald Mountain, between Limpinwood and Chillingham, recorded 474mm in the same period.

The area was declared a natural disaster zone on Saturday, January 5 after then Emergency Services Minister Nathan Rees toured the flood-ravaged area.

The Tweed’s damage bill from the flooding ran into the millions. Tweed Shire Council said it would cost $5 million to fix roads and bridges.

Council general manager Mike Rayner said at the time it was a one-in-four-year flood for the Tweed River at Murwillumbah and one-in-two-year flood for Tumbulgum and Chinderah.

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