The countryside on the North Coast was flooded from Kempsey to Lismore, a distance of about 200 miles, Flight Superintendent D. H, Swain, of the “Herald” Flying Service, said yesterday. He had just returned from a flight to Lismore delivering the “Herald” to floodbound towns.
“The northern rivers have overflowed into colossal sheets of water, like a series of big inland seas,” he said. “The flooding is on a much wider scale than I have ever seen before.”
Road, rail and telephone communications through the North Coast are disrupted. There have been power failures in many towns.
Planes will parachute food to some areas to-day. Cattle and canefield losses have been heavy.
Thousands of people are homeless at Grafton and South Grafton, which is experiencing as bad a flood as its worst in 1948. At 1 a.m. to-day the Grafton telephone exchange reported that the business centres of Grafton and South Grafton were under water.
The Macleay River, which flooded Kempsey early yesterday, continued to rise throughout the day and had reached record flood level last night. About 500 families are now evacuated from their homes and more are leaving. Water is flooding the main street of the town and is over the counters in some shops.
Around Coffs Harbour yesterday were scenes of destruction unparalleled in the town’s history, caused by the cyclonic storm which brought 10 inches of rain in the 24 hours to 9 a.m. The wind at times had reached 90 miles an hour.
On the beach in the harbour the freighter Bangalow was lying broadside on in the breakers. Wreckage of nine fishing launches littered the beach. The Bangalow went ashore soon after midnight.
She had entered the harbour earlier to shelter from the storm. The captain and crew are still on board and safe. Police last night said the town was experiencing the biggest flood it had known.
Hundreds of people had had to evacuate their homes, and a number of buildings had been blown down.
Heavy rain renewed the flood danger in Maitland yesterday, forcing many more families to flee their homes.
More than 3,000 people are now living in public halls and staying with friends in the town.
Water yesterday was a foot deep across a part of High Street, Maitland’s main street.
Voters waded through the water to get to the booths at the Town Hall for the post-poned poll in the Maitland electorate. One girl made the journey in a swimming costume. Polling was abandoned an hour early.
Unofficial Government sources later last night said the State would probably make a grant of £10,000 and the Commonwealth a similar grant, as latest flood relief in New South Wales.
The Weather Bureau last night warned that serious flood conditions will continue on all coastal rivers from the Hunter northwards.
Rises are also forecast in the Nepean, Namoi and Gwydir rivers.