066. Week 11. Strong winds, heavy rains and floods cannot deter us…
Day 71. Saturday 23rd May 2009.
We wake to a dismal morning with overcast conditions and rain which are heavy at times but no mention on the radio if the roads are open. Very little traffic has passed, in either direction, overnight. Flooding at Kempsey and Nambucca occurred overnight and evacuations occurred. It seems many caravan parks in the area from Coffs Harbour to the Sunshine Coast were flooded and evacuated with many people losing their possessions.
Sheesh. We are glad we decided not to pull into a CP last night. Most are on low ground, usually near rivers, creeks or the ocean. We are parked on a hill well above a raging creek, which is unlikely to rise more than 10metres.
The highway into Grafton is closed a few klms past our overnight stop but a side road provides a detour to South Grafton but yet again we are confronted by a road block and the highway is clearly under running water.
We cross the bridge into Grafton. The river is a sea of rushing mud with lots of debris and some riverside buildings are part or fully underwater. Stopping at a caravan park it seems they were evacuated last night and is expecting people back this morning. They have heard a rumour trucks and high clearance vehicles are allowed through on the road to Casino. We present ourselves at the roadblock. Yes they will let us through. Soon we see many trucks coming the opposite way. There is some water up to the road edges and many potholes. We can see where the water was over the road last night but it is clear today although heavy rain has started to fall again.
Arriving in Casino we are told the Lismore road has been re-opened.
Lismore airport is underwater and a large plane is sitting on the tarmac surrounded by what appears to be a sea of water. The road to Bangalow is flooded in many places. Trucks are coming through town from Ballina. The road has been re-opened. Along the way to Ballina we can see where the road has been flooded overnight and driving should still be in a cautious manner but we arrive in Ballina. Many trees have been blown over or shredded in the wind. The wind is still very strong.
Leaving Ballina there are a few places where water is still across the road and large potholes everywhere. As we are climbing the hill above Byron Bay we hear on the radio the only road open to BB is now closed as a large tree has fallen over the road bringing down power lines and people still sitting in their cars. A dangerous situation.
At last, we are over the steep hill and soon on the Freeway and on our way to Tweed Heads. We continue on to Tallebudgera Creek and into a CP on the creek.
Looking South from Tallebudgera.
The day is not yet over. Due to the huge seas, strong winds and low pressure system a higher than usual tide is expected at 7.30 tonight.
The tide came into the CP but no vans were near the inundation.
Wilson River in flood at Lismore.