Australian Army soldiers joined State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers recently to conduct welfare checks along Bungawalbin Creek in northern New South Wales and ended up rescuing a local man who hoped to ride out recent floodwaters.
CAPTION: Australian Army soldiers and Mr Daniel Clark, Coraki SES commander, check on community members along Bungawalbin Creek in northern New South Wales. Story by Captain Catalina Martinez-Pinto. Photo by Corporal Sagi Biderman.
Using an SES boat, soldiers and local SES volunteers travelled about 50 kilometres along the creek from Coraki to Yellow Crossing, finding Tony Butcher stranded along the Bungawalbin-Whiporie road.
“Usually, I stock up and stay during a flood, but as the days went by and the rain did not intend to stop, I was really hoping someone will come this way and help me evacuate,” Mr Butcher said.
“I did see some rescue helicopters, but I was concerned they could not land in my property.
“Some days later, I heard the SES boat and saw the Army uniforms coming up the river, I took my packed bag and ran to make contact with them and catch a ride back to Coraki.”
Mr Butcher said these floods were the highest in recorded history, topping the previous highest mark in 1954.
The Army and SES personnel checked 20 properties only accessible via boat during a welfare check task in the area.
SES Coraki commander Daniel Clark said his people welcomed the soldiers assistance to help coordinate entry into the areas affected by water.
“Finding Tony was a testament of the unstoppable mission to assist our community in times of crisis,” Mr Clark said.
More than 6000 ADF personnel have surged into northern New South Wales and south-east Queensland areas to help local communities, government, SES and other emergency services respond to the floods.