TWEED SES controller Brian Sheahan with a sign to be installed at Murwillumbah advising of the 1954 flood peak.
TWEED SES controller Brian Sheahan with a sign to be installed at Murwillumbah advising of the 1954 flood peak.

Flood-awareness signs reinstalled

By KEN SAPWELL

FORMER Tweed Mayor Max Boyd has applauded moves to re-instal flood-level markers in several shire hot-spots after an earlier attempt was scuttled by development and real estate interests.

Cr Boyd, who helped initiate a program several years using paint on power poles to indicate the level of the 1954 flood, said he hoped the council would stand firm against any backlash this time.

"It is essential that residents have an understanding of how high and how quickly floodwaters can rise so they're much better prepared in the event of a major flood," he said.

"It's not a question of if a new flood hits but when, because another major flood is inevitable."

He said if the maximum probable flood occurred it would be two to three metres higher than the 1954 flood and would involve the evacuation of more than 20,000 people.

Cr Boyd, who was trapped on his Dulguigan property surrounded by an inland sea in the 1954 flood, said the experience was both surreal and frightening.

"Waves washed up 30 head of dead cattle onto my property along with hundreds of light bulbs and other debris from the town which was under some seven metres of water," he said.

"But what everyone remembers from that time is how quickly and high the floodwaters came and it's frightening to think of the implications when we get say a one-in-100-year flood."

The council's flood engineer, Patrick Knight, will be erecting the flood markers at South Murwillumbah, Tumbulgum, Chinderah, Fingal Road, South Tweed and Tweed Heads this week.

Historical and new computer models show these areas are likely to be among the worst hit in a major flood, but other areas such as Bogangar could also be inundated.

The computer-generated flood models show the depth and direction of various floods, depending on rainfall and may be shown to the public at flood-awareness seminars in the future.

Mr Knight said the shire had a population of less than 30,000 when the last big flood hit 51 years ago this month, and only a few of those people were still around.

"Our population now is estimated at 78,000 and the majority of them would have little familiarity with the effect a major flood would have."

The earlier program to paint power poles, which was championed by former deputy mayor Bruce Graham who died last year, was quietly dropped following an outcry mainly from real estate agents worried about a decline in property values.



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