Tweed could be a ?New Orleans

THOUSANDS of Tweed residents would be stranded overnight by rapidly rising floodwaters in the event of a storm like Hurricane Katrina.

That's the warning from Tweed Shire Council administrator Max Boyd following a new council study which predicts flood heights twice as high as those in the devastating 1954 floods.

Mr Boyd yesterday said it alarmed him that Tweed home owners could find themselves in "the sort of situation we have seen in New Orleans" - the ravaged southern US city which sits on a latitude similar to Grafton.

"We think it will never happen, but invariably it does," he said. "A lot of people don't realise what impending danger there is. It is up to council and people in authority to warn them."

Mr Boyd said he still had a "vivid recollection" of the 1954 flood which council officers have revealed would be dwarfed by a "probable maximum flood".

"The thing about flooding in the Tweed, is, it happens so quickly," he added.

"In the afternoon before there was very little water lying around anywhere. Then when we woke up in the morning, after torrential rain and cyclonic winds, there was an inland sea.

"It was unbelievable.

"In a situation like that. by the time you realise you have a problem on your hands, it's almost too late to either wade out or try to get vehicles out."

The 1954 inland seas covered the floodplain around Murwillumbah with the height of water at the Mur- willumbah bridge recorded as 6.04 metres. Main Street shops were flooded up to their awnings.

In a probable maximum flood the level is predicted to rise to 10.77 metres.

Council officers have revealed further study will be undertaken on the need to build higher level roads in new subdivisions to ensure residents can evacuate.

But they have warned it would be difficult to "retrofit" roads in existing "filled floodplain subdivisions" such as West Banora Point.

Mr Boyd said "an extremely accurate and good flood warning system" had to be in place, but residents should also ensure they had a battery-powered radio and light as well as "some form of buoyancy" such as a blow-up mattress.

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