People sleep in cars, with strangers as flood cuts off Tweed
HUNDREDS of people across the Tweed were stranded overnight, forced to sleep in their cars or find alternative accommodation with kind strangers as flooding forced the closure of the Pacific Highway between NSW and Queensland.
The Pacific Highway remains closed in both directions as of 11am this morning, with commuters stranded on both sides of the river. It is not expected to reopen until at least early this afternoon, after the high tide begins to ease.
At Pottsville, a bus load of elderly residents from Brisbane were on their way home after a week's trip to Yamba when they got stuck.
They were forced to turn around and ended up at the Pottsville Beach Sports Club, where management was able to find homes for the 40 or so passengers to bunk down for the night.
Valerie and Brian Old, from Brisbane's western suburbs, were grateful to spend the night with Selena and John Koning at their home in Koala Beach.
"We had a lovely night here last night,” Mrs Old said.
"These lovely people were very kind to put us up for the night. Our coach had pulled into the Pottsville bowls club so we could get something to eat and drink and go to the toilet and wait for the highway to open.”
Selena Koning, who has already opened her home to various wet animals in the area, said it was great to help out.
"It's a bit like Noah's Ark here,” Ms Koning joked.
"We have two rabbits in the lounge, eight chooks in the office and a green tree snake - and now we have added two pensioners.
"It was so lovely to have these lovely people here last night.”
Others were not so lucky, with many people forced to sleep in their cars overnight.
Casuarina nurse Julie Milner, who was on her way home from work at the John Flynn Hospital, was forced to sleep in her car overnight at Sexton Hill at Banora Point, as she was caught in a 100-strong queue of cars backed up on the roadway.
"I am absolutely knackered,” Ms Milner said.
"It was so cold, I couldn't sleep. I was so unprepared, I had nothing in my car. I was trying to wrap myself in the sunshield.
"It was lucky I had a bottle of water in my bag, but I was starving, I hadn't had anything to eat since lunch.”
Ms Milner, who praised the support of SES volunteers, said most people remained shut up in their cars to brave out the night.
At sunrise, Ms Milner was able to negotiate her way out of the cars stuck on the roadway and go to Tweed City. She is still unsure when she will get home but was considering abandoning her car and trying to walk over the bridge.