22 March 2021

South Coast residents stranded as Deua and Moruya rivers flood

| Hannah Sparks
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Sea foam on Moruya River at high tide after heavy rain.

Moruya River at high tide after heavy rain. Photo: Alex Rea.

Residents situated on the Deua River and Moruya River, on the NSW South Coast, are preparing for a few days of disruption as statewide heavy rain causes minor flooding and several local road closures.

Deua River at Wamban, a 10-minute drive inland from Moruya, peaked at 6.7 metres around midnight on Sunday, 21 March, while Moruya River, at Moruya Bridge, peaked at 1.28 metres at 7.30 am on Monday, 22 March.

The levels of both rivers are falling, however moderate to heavy rain is forecast in the next 24 to 48 hours, which could cause further rises.

Surf Life Saving NSW is also encouraging people to pay attention to the hazardous surf warnings currently issued along the NSW South Coast and to stay away from rock ledges, cliffs and other areas impacted by the surf.

“Flash rips can develop anywhere, even for a short time, so the best approach is to stay out of the surf until conditions improve,” said Cheryl McCarthy, director of Surf Life Saving NSW, Far South Coast Branch.

Sea foam on South Coast beach.

Sea foam swamps NSW South Coast beaches after heavy rain. Photo: Alex Rea.

Emma Lipscombe lives at Mogendoura Farm on the northern side of Moruya River, and it is currently cut off by minor flooding across Hawdons Road.

A paddock in front of her house, which hosted 200 campers during a horse endurance event two weeks ago, is currently 1.5 metres underwater.

Emma expects the flooding to last until next weekend and has had to relocate farm cottage guests who were due to stay until Saturday, 27 March.

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The flooding is another blow for Emma after the drought, bushfires – which killed 20 of their cattle and damaged infrastructure – and COVID-19, which drove away more cottage guests.

“If we get a lot of rain in the mountains and then the river and creek rise, the water meets in the middle, which is our farm,” she says.

“It doesn’t take too much for us to get cut off – it probably happens once every several years, but usually we get flooded in for two days so this is extreme.

Flooding at Mogendoura Farm.

Markers show the depth of flooding at Mogendoura Farm near Moruya. Photo: Emma Lipscombe.

“It’s just the livestock and infrastructure we’re worried about, and making sure we’ve got supplies.”

Emma’s freezer is full and she has a large bag of powdered milk for her poddy calf, but she hopes her cows don’t calve in the next few days as it will be impossible to fetch a vet.

She is also concerned about damage to Hawdons Road, which was only recently fixed after bushfire damage, and she says trees made unstable by the bushfires and now rain could fall and damage more of their infrastructure.

Many roads in the area were impacted by the bushfires and could now also be impacted by floodwater.

A Eurobodalla Shire Council spokesperson said staff will assess roads once it’s safe to do so, and any repairs will be carried out as soon as possible.

Eurobodalla Shire Council roads closed due to flooding:

  • Araluen Road at Kiora Bridge, west of Moruya.
  • Clouts Road at the causeway, north Moruya.
  • Comerang Forest Road at Silo Farm Bridge, Eurobodalla, west of Bodalla.
  • Congo Road north, residents should use the sealed road.
  • Congo Road south, via Bingie Road and the highway.
  • Eurobodalla Road at Reedy Creek.
  • Nerrigundah Mountain Road at Tyrone Bridge, west of Bodalla.
  • River Road at Kings Highway, Nelligen.

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting 30-50 millimetres of rain to fall in Moruya on Monday, 22 March, and 100-150mm on Tuesday, 23 March.

The NSW State Emergency Service says it expects Kiora Bridge, west of Moruya, and Wamban Bridge will continue to be impacted by floodwaters.

Its advice to people in areas impacted by flooding is to:

  • Stay up to date with information.
  • Listen to flood warnings and follow advice on how to protect yourself, family and property.
  • Keep your pets close by, and always know where they are.
  • Check on your family, friends and neighbours.

Farmers and rural property owners should watch the river and be ready to move pumps, other equipment and livestock away from rising waters.

Motorists should never drive through floodwaters, which may have washed away road surfaces and could be deeper or faster flowing than they look.

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