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Decade on since 2012 Yenda flood and mayor says ‘more work to be done’ | The Area News

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A decade after the floods which inundated homes in Yenda, there’s still work to be done to protect the community. The MIA was drenched with heavy rain on the weekend of March 3, 2012, before the northern branch canal was breached on March 5 before the water entered Yenda on March 6. The damage was in the millions, and millions more was and will be spent upgrading the protection for Yenda. While Yenda was most affected by the floodwater, the communities of Yoogali and Hanwood weren’t spared with water lapping doorways and driveways. Former Area News photographer Anthony Stipo said there had been a steady torrent of rain, including 100 millimetres in a day, leading up to the floods. The first sign was on Saturday March 3 when he saw water flowing from the top of Scenic Hill. “It was like a waterfall off the hill and I thought it was unusual,” he said. He later saw council staff working to unblock a drain at Yoogali, before waking on Sunday to water over the road on his street at Hanwood. He went for a drive and saw the floodwater at Yoogali before calling the editor asking for more staff to be put on to tell people what was happening. “There was nothing to see in Griffith, it all seemed normal, but being out and about it was clear there was flooding,” he said. Mr Stipo said a few phone calls the newsroom sprung into action to ensure the story was covered. Heading out to Yenda, the water could be seen creeping closer, and within 30 minutes it breached the canal and went into town. Mr Stipo grew up in Yenda and said the idea of the town flooding was “completely unheard of”, but he continued to cover the story heading up into the air to survey the damage. READ MORE The photos which were published were used by residents to determine how much water had gone into their homes, with the people stopping by The Area News’ office to examine the images. “People wanted to know the height the water had reached and none one was providing the information about where the water had reached,” he said. Not knowing how long their homes would be inaccessible, some folks got a small boat to rescue a Major Mitchell’s cockatoo from a backyard. The photos Mr Stipo took on the boat helped show how high that water had reached – in some places the water reached waist-height, in others only to the knees. He said the way the community of Griffith banded together to help people was remarkable, from schools, businesses and people. “Everyone was willing to help, if they couldn’t help physically, it was financial or even running a barbecue for residents and volunteers,” he said. Then Local Commander of Griffith’s SES unit, Steve Mortlock said every volunteer went above and beyond when asked. Those floods provided a trigger to reduce the potential of a similar event impacting the community the same way. “In 2012 we had a major event, since then we have opened the EMR, minimised the risk to Yenda, got floodplain plans approved,” Mr Mortlock said. “There’s pumps in at Yenda to minimise minor local flooding, they’re putting in a levee at and at Yoogali and Hanwood as well as pump stations as. “That’s all happening because of what happened in 2012.” RELATED | Opening of East Mirrool Regulator ‘a day to be proud of’ Mr Mortlock said a similar amount of rain fell in 2016 as it did in 2012, however the infrastructure in place at the time was able to cope with that volume of rain. In 2012, he said most volunteers had worked 24 hours a day for three to four days, catching brief moments of sleep where they could. He said the hours worked by SES volunteers exceeded the ones recorded and volunteers took to finding a break where they could including on the floor of the radio room. “Our members all went above and beyond, not everything went right but we did the best we could,” Mr Mortlock said. He said the number of residents who came down to fill sandbags meant there wasn’t enough sand to fill the bags people had. “Before we kept a stockpile of 4000 sandbags, but now we keep 10,000 sandbags.” The effort to help the flood wasn’t restricted to the SES, Mr Mortlock said Brethren volunteers – now knonw as the Rapid Relief Team, came across from Leeton, plus volunteers from the NSW RFS and Fire and Rescue NSW’s crew members. Yenda Progress Association member Paul Rossetto said the estimated flood damage to the town was around $90 million. Homes were damaged, possessions lost and late varieties of grapes were left on the vine as floodwater pooled in paddocks. RELATED | Flooded roads anger Yenda residents “Yenda is still recovering from it, we lost the police station it was never repaired,” Mr Rossetto said. He said for many years following the 2012 floods people worried heavy rain would lead to a repeat of the flood. He had concerns about the East Mirrool Creek regulator said it, and new policies had yet to be tested, and wanted to see further money invested to upgrade floodgates. “The floodplain committee should seek funding to upgrade the floodgates to one in 100 ARI capacity,” Mr Rossetto said rain this year had caught a friend in her house for a week leaving her unable to leave. He ecnouraged council to upgrade town drainage, a pump built in 2013 as part of an upgrade on Railway Parade which drains North Avenue has grass growing along its path. That grass means the water slows and pools and a concrete spoon drain would help ensure the water drains better and keeps the grass away. “There’s a really deep hope on Henry Street and Park Street, it takes a month for the water to drain.” Mayor Doug Curran was just in his first term on Griffith City Council in 2012, and said the worry about flooding came from the volume of rain which fell in the Mirrool Creek catchment. Councillor Curran said a lot of rain had already fallen in February of that year which meant as the water headed downstream it led to the flood. RELATED | MIA welcomes the sky’s deluge in style He said the work done to put Yenda in a better position to resist a flood included re-evaluating policies and procedures to the more expensive work such as the East Mirrool Creek regulator. “In terms of preparedness and monitoring we’re miles away,” Cr Curran said. “There’s still structures that could cause dramas on the creek and the EMR breach policy will help move the water away from Yenda.” Cr Curran said Yenda was in a better position, progress was being made on getting Yoogali into a better position and the process to protect Hanwood better was beginning. “The work isn’t done, we’ve got more to do. It takes years and millions in funding.” Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:

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