Opinion

Caught up in flood furore

by
December 05, 2017

News journalist Tara Whitsed experienced the Euroa floods first-hand at the weekend.

On Saturday morning I woke to a town that had been inundated with floodwater during the night.

For many Euroa residents, the night had been a restless one.

Several people prepared for the worst on Friday evening, sandbagging the entrances to their home or property.

The town’s State Emergency Service unit became a hive of action as volunteers got ready for the night ahead.

I must admit, despite all the warnings, I had not considered the heavy rainfall and expected flooding would result in so many streets becoming filled with water.

I had gone to bed on Friday night with a positive attitude and, to be honest, slept like a baby while heavy rainfall pelted on our roof.

I slept through the many VicEmergency application alerts that kept my partner awake for most of the night.

But when I woke and saw just how many calls for help there had been through the night, my partner and I jumped out of bed to see what the town had become.

What is usually a sleepy town on a Saturday morning was a hive of activity — residents and stranded visitors scrambled to Sevens Creek Park to take a look at just how high the water had risen.

While a policeman closed a road to traffic, I had never seen so many cars touring around the town.

Although we are told to never drive in floodwaters and residents were turning the roads into chaos, I could not blame them; I was one of them.

I was shocked to see just how far the water had come into the town.

Photos circulated on Facebook from earlier that morning of streets completely covered in water.

Having growing up just a few hundred metres from the Murray River, I have experienced the power of heavy floods and how damaging they can be.

But, being nestled in the valleys at the base of the Snowy Mountains, the water had somewhere to flow and rarely lapped at the doorsteps of people’s homes.

In Euroa, the water was inescapable.

With complicated drainage and houses built on areas where water once flowed, as well as being plonked between the Sevens and Castle creeks, it is no wonder the heavy rainfall resulted in flash flooding.

Areas that would usually become a place to relax in the summer months — Euroa’s golf course and caravan park — went underwater.

The bowling green filled to the brim, Memorial Oval was soaked and homes close to the creeks remained under threat for some time before water levels began to recede.

A short drive to my partner’s parents’ place in Longwood along Hume Hwy became a 45-minute journey when police stopped us to wait for VicRoads to close one lane to traffic.

I did not experience the 2010 floods and was taken aback by just how much water had collected in the towns and surrounding areas.

By lunchtime, residents had begun to return to their homes as the floodwaters started to recede.

The excitement had worn off and I felt awful for those who were faced with a lengthy clean-up.

But there was something else that truly took me by surprise during the entire event — and that was just how concerned my colleagues, friends and family were for our safety.

I received several messages from people wanting to know how our house had fared, how we were feeling and if we were okay.

It was the human spirit that flourished during the floods that has stayed with me now the waters have headed down the Sevens.

I take my hat off to all those volunteers who worked through the night and across the weekend to help families to save their homes. If it were not for you, Euroa might have faced a different situation.

Tara Whitsed is a journalist at The News.

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