Ten people are now confirmed dead following the cyclonic storm that hit Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Central Coast on Friday and Saturday.
A family of five were killed when the car they were travelling in was swept away in flood waters when the road they were driving on simply fell into a swollen creek. The old pacific highway near Sommersby gave way beneath the car and a thirty metre section of the road simply vanished into a chasm. The father, mother, two children and a nephew of the parents were all killed in the road collapse. There were reports that the father could be heard yelling out for help for a short period, but there was no possibility of rescue.
An elderly couple were drowned when their 4WD was swept into flood waters near Clarence Town and their bodies found on a farmer’s property a day or so later.
Among the other fatalities, one man was killed when a tree fell on his vehicle and another man drowned after having managed to escapse from his car which was being swept away, he was then washed into a drain and sucked under.
Twenty one men were rescued from the stricken bulk carrier at Nobby’s beach (see picture of the ship in an earlier posting), when helicopters were called in to rescue them from mountainous seas that saw waves breaking over the ship.
Hundreds of other people were saved from drowning in their cars, shops and homes, by the heroic action of people they didn’t even know. The city abounds with stories of people who only survived the disaster with moments to spare, thanks to the actions of strangers.
It is incredible that only ten have been confirmed dead in this disaster, given that thousands of cars were swept away, flooded and submerged within seconds of when the flooding actually started. I know, I was caught up in it at one point.
People were forced to stay wherever they could find a spot to stay. Some slept in shops that had beds for sale, as shop owners allowed people to sleep on them for the night as their shop was cut off by rising flood waters. Others slept at their place of work or in cars on high ground.
It was an experience that Novocastrians will not want to repeat anytime soon.