Extensive damage revealed

Jayne RickardThe West Australian
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Craters the size of houses, buckled bitumen and waist-deep water on major highways around Carnarvon are causing headaches for authorities as they work around the clock in a bid to reopen roads.

The town has effectively been an island since record-breaking floodwaters hit last Saturday.

Residents living in plantations along South River Road finally began cleaning up the devastating impact of the weekend floodwaters, which destroyed millions of dollars in crops and tore through homes and paddocks.

Stranded vehicles, debris and rotting fruit are scattered for kilometres.

Laura Ivey and her family spent five nights sleeping on the roof of their caravan as floodwaters swirled around their mango plantation. Yesterday, the heartbroken woman, her husband, five children and friends were slowly retrieving mud-soaked items from their lifelong home and sweeping thick, wet mud out of sheds.

"We didn't want to get evacuated because as soon as the water went down, we wanted to be able to get in and start cleaning up," Mrs Ivey said.

"Mattresses, furniture, we lifted everything but it wasn't enough. I've got a suitcase full of photographs which I've always kept in case and I forgot to lift it. So that's all my children's baby photos ... all gone."

Neighbour Harry Sutcliffe was philosophical about his destroyed grape vines and home but conceded he and wife Kate would be leaving the property to move to Boyanup. He said there was little reason to stay after their 12ha property was destroyed.

Fire and Emergency Authority SES volunteers from across the region continued to distribute food, water and other supplies to residents yesterday.

Senator Chris Evans visited the region yesterday to inspect damage and said Commonwealth funds provided through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements program would be distributed across seven areas.

Natural disaster zones have been declared in Ashburton, Carnarvon, Exmouth, Murchison, Northampton, Shark Bay and Upper Gascoyne.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the Commonwealth Government was providing natural disaster assistance as a result of flooding across NSW, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and WA.

About 400 Carnarvon residents are still without power and the community has been asked to conserve water as storage tanks are slowly replenished.

North West Coastal Highway heading south to the Shark Bay Road will not reopen before Christmas.

Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi has launched a distress relief fund to raise money for residents suffering hardship across the Gascoyne area.

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