Carnarvon spared second torrent

Sarah QuintonThe West Australian
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Residents and growers in Carnarvon were spared a second major flood yesterday — but their problems are far from over.

Heavy rains flowing off farmland 200km east of the town had been forecast to inundate properties yesterday but water levels peaked and were dropping last night.

Residents are still reeling from the damage caused when the area first flooded three weeks ago and face further hardship with the cyclone season yet to begin.

The Gascoyne River rose to 6.5m just before dawn yesterday as plantation growers returned to their homes by boat. Many people woke to river levels lapping at their front gates along the riverbank, restricting access by road to their properties.

By 9.30am the river at Nine Mile Bridge was 6.3m and falling slowly. Authorities predicted the level would remain above 5m today.

Margaret Row resident Rod Sweetman returned by dinghy to his 13ha banana and mango plantation to discover minimal damage.

He spent most of Wednesday building levees.

Further up the road towards the town, Shane Bryan escaped with no damage, thanks to his levees.

“We were better prepared this time, the last one we were caught with our pants down, ” he said.

“But this has only just started, we’ve got the cyclone season to go yet but it is critical that the levee in town doesn’t break.”

Residents at Gascoyne Junction, 100km east of Carnarvon, were again stranded with roads cut. Two helicopters were airlifting food and water supplies yesterday.

Upper Gascoyne Shire chief executive Paul Rawlings said since last month’s flood, water was being trucked in for washing but people were still drinking bottled water.

“We keep having thunderstorms and we can’t do anything, ” he said.

“It’s been three weeks since the first flood and we haven’t got anywhere and now we can’t get out of Gascoyne Junction at all. We are running low on food.”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is expected to visit people in the affected areas today.

More showers were expected inland overnight and another rise in water levels was possible.

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