BROADWATER: Our own automated river gauge would ease flood anxiety

ABOVE: The river gauge at Woodburn. Other river towns want a gauge too. Photo: Paul Stanley-Jones

Susanna Freymark

The home of Broadwater resident Daniel Ainsworth was hit hard in the first flood on March 1.

One month later, on April 1, he was dealing with another flood in his village of 500 people.

This second flood filled the eastern end of town and water came into basements of houses previously flooded to their roofs.

In this flood, like the one before, locals looked after locals, Daniel said.

“This time it was a normal flood.”

People were nervous today because there was no information about Broadwater, he said.

For the residents it was a waiting game. Waiting to see how much the Richmond River rose, waiting to see when it would drop.

The old folk in town know that it takes three days for floodwaters to get to Broadwater from Lismore, Daniel said.

“We are usually half a metre lower than Woodburn. We’re going off history.”

Apart from evacuation warnings, residents struggled to get information about the river levels.

The flood bulletins need to include Broadwater, Wardell and Rileys Hill, Daniel said.

“It would relieve people’s stress,” he said.

“Even an estimate of the river levels would help.”

With high tide at 10pm tonight, there was still concern among residents.

Daniel wants to see a river gauge at Broadwater and regular updates about the river.

An automated river gauge linked to BOM would supply that information.

Today, in their second flood for the month, Daniel said everyone helped each other.

“We stick together as a community,” he said.

Daniel Ainsworth with Barry Morgan, captain of Mummulgum RFS helping clean Daniel’s house in Broadwater

Daniel was rescued by boat in the March 1 flood. A man who had been rescuing people in Lismore, came by Broadwater in his boat and rescued Daniel and his family.

In this flood, about 50% of the population were not in town after their homes were damaged in the first flood.

“It’s very quiet,” Daniel said.

Some people were back fixing up their properties, getting the sewer back on and doing basic repairs before the second flood hit.

Installing river gauges at towns that don’t have them would go a long way to ease the anxiety about rising floodwaters and help people plan for what is to come.

Broadwater in floods today. Video by Daniel Ainsworth

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