It has been five years since two east coast lows in quick succession delivered huge amounts of rain on the Mid North Coast resulting in two weeks of flooding across the area.
In 2013, the last week of February and first week of March saw torrential rains cause flooding in the Macleay, Hastings, Camden Haven, Manning, Myall and Gloucester catchments.
In Gloucester the NSW SES issued a minor flood warning on March 1.
The Manning Valley had warnings asking people to prepare for possible evacuations of low-lying parts of Taree, Cundletown and the Wingham Peninsular and for a brief period on Saturday, March 2, Tuncurry and Forster were isolated due to road closures.
During the February event, the Macleay and Hastings rivers saw major flooding resulting in the isolation of lower floodplain communities and inundation of properties.
Rainfall totals in the 300mm to 400mm range over a three day period fell on catchments still wet from Australia Day minor flooding caused by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.
In the Macleay, evacuations were issued for the Lower Macleay and the Kempsey CBD.
In the Hastings evacuations orders were issued for Port Macquarie’s North Shore, Settlement Point, Hibbard Drive and low lying parts of the of the CBD.
A key feature of the first week of the floods was the rapid speed at which the Macleay and Hastings rivers rose, with the Macleay River at the Kempsey gauge rising from 1.2 metres to 6 metres in under 18 hours.
On the Hastings, the peak flood height at the Settlement Point gauge was 1.72 metres, just below the major flood height of 1.75 metres and below the predicted 1.9 metres. However the speed of the flood and the amount of debris in the river was compared to the major flooding of 1978.
Just when residents of the Mid North Coast thought the severe weather had finished, the first week of March saw a second east coast low form off the Hunter Coast and then track north.
This resulted in renewed flooding, however this time it was the lower parts of the Mid North Coast that were heavily impacted.
Across the two flood events, NSW SES Mid North Coast volunteers responded to 1588 requests for emergency assistance include making safe storm damage properties, sandbagging, undertaking 41 flood rescues, resupplying essential supplies to isolated communities, providing livestock assistance and transporting people from flood isolated areas to urgent medical appointments.
On this five year anniversary of the floods, the NSW SES is asking people on the Mid North Coast who live near rivers and creeks to review or develop their own plans for future floods to ensure their safety and minimise property damage.
NSW SES Mid North Coast Region Controller, Mr Tony Day, said it is important that people in flood prone areas know at what river height isolation and inundation of their property occurs and have a written flood plan with triggers for actions such as moving household items and evacuation.
Mr Day also acknowledged the collective effort of NSW SES volunteers, other emergency services and the local community during the 2013 natural disaster.
“During the floods, NSW SES volunteers were outstanding in juggling work and family commitments to help the community during that difficult time,” Mr Day said.
“We also had great support from local councils and other emergency services such as NSW Police, NSW RFS, NSW Ambulance and Fire and Rescue NSW.”
NSW SES Mid North Coast Region has implemented a number of internal operational improvements and community engagement programs since the 2013 event with the aim of improving the way emergency services and the community prepare for, responds to and recovers from future floods.
NSW SES is also wanting to archive any photos of the 2013 floods.
Photos of the 2013 flood can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent to the NSW SES Mid North Coast Facebook page.