Valley dodges bullet as weather system spares region

The wind brought this tree down in Course St, Grafton.
The wind brought this tree down in Course St, Grafton.

THE Clarence Valley has "dodged a bullet" with the region emerging from the threat posed by Cyclone Marcia relatively unscathed.

Forecasters had warned residents to prepare for the worst with the weather system tipped to dump hundreds of millimetres on the region but the threat of wind damage and wide-spread flooding had yesterday not been realised.

Grafton SES unit controller Wally Bridle said emergency personnel had responded to a couple of minor jobs to install tarps on damaged roofs, while a couple of trees had fallen onto council roads.

"Mostly we've been making sandbags up but we will be emptying those again it seems," he said.

Mr Bridle said most roads had remained open and that the flood was a "bit of non-event" this time around.

"But we were prepared for a major one," he said.

"We still cop abuse for panicking people but they have to be aware of what could happen."

Mr Bridle said while the damage had been minor, people were to be commended for preparing for the worst.

"If it had rained as much as we expected it would have been a bonus for them," he said.

Mr Bridle said some minor flooding was still expected with the Orara River still yet to peak at Glenreagh and Coutts Crossing but he said there shouldn't be any major concerns.

"It will be nuisance rain for the rest of the week now," he said.

Yamba SES unit controller Wayne Fraser said they had already begun packing up operations but would keep sandbags prepared.

"We've been told to keep a reserve stock just in case as there is more rain predicted this week," he said.

Mr Fraser said some low-lying roads in and around Yamba had flooded at the weekend while the large surf and high tides had caused some beach erosion.

Whiting and Turners beaches were among those scarred, while Main Beach and Pippi had also been damaged.

"There was a bit of foam around but not as much as anticipated," Mr Fraser said.

"I thought the surf club would have been covered up to the door as in previous years but it wasn't."

Mr Fraser said the strong winds had also brought some trees down on the road to Iluka but there was no damage reported in Yamba.

"The wind was blowy but wasn't destructive," he said.

"It made the pine trees dance so we anticipated some damage there but it was just a bit of crud on the ground on Sunday."

Mr Fraser said the dire predictions had caused some panic among residents.

"I'd never seen that amount of water predicted in the 18 years I've been at Yamba but you can't be too careful," he said.

"We had had previous rain so if it would have happened it would have been chaos.

"We watched the cyclone tracking down the coast but it tended to slow down again. You really can't predict it."

Bureau of Meteorology flood warning section head Gordon McKay said the Clarence did "dodge a bullet when it came to receiving the heaviest rain".

"It's not too bad now, a few showers are still around but easing off so it won't cause any more river rises. It will just keep things wet," he said.

BOM duty forecaster Sarah Chadwick said yesterday that the region had been fortunate to escape flooding with heavy rain recorded in some areas on Friday and Saturday.

"Wooli had around 70mm as the system stayed quite close to the coast," she said.

"It was inland north of the Clarence before moving out there so it was probably fortunate for some areas like Grafton.

"The Clarence levels increased a little but it was still a long way from minor flood level.

"We are expecting a few more showers in that area over the next few days but not so heavy in total."

Ms Chadwick said it was difficult to predict just how systems like Cyclone Marcia will behave.

A minor flood warning remained in place for the Orara River late yesterday.

It was expected to peak at Glenreagh at about 6am on Sunday.

There was also some minor flooding expected at Coutts Crossing with the river tipped to peak there at about midnight Monday.

Topics:  clarence valley cyclone flooding weather

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