Flooded Riverina towns still sodden and suffering

Flooded Riverina towns still sodden and suffering

Updated May 21, 2012 08:32:27

More than two months after devastating floods swept through the Riverina, in southern New South Wales, some farmers and residents are still suffering.

Several farms are still underwater and hundreds of families have been unable to return to their damaged homes.

Many are waiting for insurance pay outs to repair their properties.

Yenda farmer Mark Groat is one of those affected.

After eight years of drought he got more water than he wished for. More than two months after the floods, parts of his farm are still underwater.

“Oh, even local people are surprised there is still water around,” he said.

Mr Groat has lost his rice crop and will not be able to plant wheat over the winter.

It will be several months before he can even drive on the sodden paddock.

The farm only received minor damage when the flood started in March, but the real problems came when water started coming up from blocked irrigation drains.

“The fact it has been on so long is what we have to look at. That’s what’s done the damage, the length of time it’s been on,” he said.

“So if they can look at getting it off a lot quicker, well that’d save us a lot.”

Next door, fellow farmer Brad Taylor is surveying the damage to his cherry orchard.


The flood waters destroyed 11,000 young cherry trees, worth $500,000.

“It was devastating just to see it coming up day after day. It was just a feeling of helplessness,” he said.

Mr Taylor says the damage to his property was also caused by water rising from the drains, several days after the peak of the flood.

“It was that afternoon that water started coming out of the drainage system and continued to do so for a long time,” he said.

A spokesman from Murrumbidgee irrigation declined to be interviewed, but released a statement saying the organisation would cooperate with any inquiry on how to improve planning and the response to the flood.

More than 200 families have been unable to return to the damaged homes in the town of Yenda.

Ninety-year-old resident Phyllis Mott says she is one of the lucky ones, but is still waiting for a payout from her insurance company.

“At least I’m in my house, there’s a lot of poor unfortunates that are not in their house in Yenda,” she said.

“They’re battling, and I know there are a lot more worse off than them but it doesn’t alter the fact that you’re in misery while you’re like this, when it shouldn’t be.

“Why don’t they tell us whether they’re going to pay or not? But they won’t.”

The new wing of the local pre-school opened only five weeks before the flood hit. It was not fully insured. Now, it’s damaged and unusable.

Some locals believe the community would have been spared if floods gates outside the town had been opened to allow the water to flow away, instead of into residential areas.

More than two months after floods spread across the Riverina, many people around Yenda want to know whether everything possible was done to protect their community.

The long wait for insurance pay outs and repairs continues.

Topics:floods, rice, irrigation, yenda-2681

First posted May 21, 2012 07:58:31

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