Rising Flood Waters and Evacuation

Submitted: Sunday, Jan 06, 2008 at 11:09
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Hello everyone and a Happy New Year to you all.

We had been away in our van for a while and were camped on a private property on the Mid North Coast of NSW when this latest wet patch of weather struck on Thursday. Our site was right beside a river that was about 4 metres down the embankment to the water.

On Friday the rain just did not stop and naturally we were keeping an eye on the river levels all day. At dusk it appeared that the river had risen about 25cm so as dark fell we were not all that worried. After we had had dinner, we headed to one of the caravans for a game of cards and a chat. All the while, the rain kept on coming down at a steady rate.

At 11.30 we decided to call it a night and head to bed. As it was to dark to check river levels and given that the river had only risen about 25cm in the last 24 hours till dusk, we were not to worried or concerned about river levels.

At 1am, there was a knock on the door of our van, and on opening the door we were told that we had to evacuate as the river had risen dramatically. Inspection of the river with a torch showed that there was water about 1.5 metres from the top of the embankment. This immediately caused us to agree that we needed to get out of there quickly.

Being in a van, it is not that much trouble to pack up and get out. Just a matter of tiding up a few things inside, secure windows and hatches, wind up legs and roll out awning, throw all the loose things from outside into the back of the car, hook up and get out, BUT, there were other campers set up near us who needed help, so we drove our cars and vans to higher ground and then walked back to help others.

The camp closest to us (who had actually raised the alarm) had 4 families who had been there for about 2 weeks. Each tent had tarps pegged to the ground, then the tent on top of that and a tarp erected above the tent and tarps erected as walls. In addition to that, they had a communal cooking area and a communal eating area full tarped up in the same manner.

All this had to be de constructed in the dark, packed away and then their 2 wheel drive vehicles taken to higher ground. In the meantime, the river had risen about another .5 metre.

By 3am we were all packed and ready to depart for the nearest highway some 22k away. We had to hope that the low level bridge that crossed the same river about 21.5k away was passable.

On arriving at the bridge, we were pleased to find that the river was about 1m below the causeway of the bridge, so we were all able to safely cross over and then head for the coast.

On arrival home, I checked the river levels on the BOM site and found out that from 11.30 till 1am the river had risen from 0,96 to 2.95m in that 1.5 hours and then till 6am had risen another 1 metre and that the bridge we had crossed at about 4am in the morning had gone under at 8am.

Anyway, my point is, with all the gear we take away with us these days, has anyone given any thought to what you would do in such an emergency. Has anyone ever thought up a personal evacuation plan for fire or flood, or considered just what roads you need to take to get out of some of these more out of the way places we all love to go and camp at. I know I never gave it much thought until now.

Anyway, it all worked out good and nothing damaged.


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