WATERLOGGED: Danny Arnott, proprietor of the Pacific Paradise Roadhouse, contemplates the floods from the
WATERLOGGED: Danny Arnott, proprietor of the Pacific Paradise Roadhouse, contemplates the floods from the "comfort” of his sandbagged doorway. Staff photographer

Twenty-five years since floods left Sunshine Coast awash

IMAGINE the Sunshine Coast as an inland sea, with water covering 1000 hectares and locals riding in boats instead of cars.

On Friday and Saturday, February 21 and 22, 1992, it did not take much imagination.

This was the reality as two of the wettest days in the Coast's history brought on flooding unlike that many had ever seen in this parts.

Locals began to wonder if the rain would ever stop, and by the end of it, nearly 2000 homes had been damaged.

Tewantin topped the rainfall, recording a massive 732mm in the 24 hours to 9am on February 22, and the deluge dropped a good half-a-metre in other locations.

The catchments were swamped and creeks gushed into rivers, swelling them fat.

But when the massive amount of water running out collided with a high tide coming in, it was like hitting a dam wall.

The water built up and then spilled over banks, reaching into outwards and upwards and bringing chaos and heartbreak to the low-lying, coastal flats.

 

INVISIBLE EDGES: Front yards and the river blurred along Bradman Ave, Maroochydore.
INVISIBLE EDGES: Front yards and the river blurred along Bradman Ave, Maroochydore. Staff photographer

The Maroochy River broke its banks along Bradman Ave at 9.30pm on the Friday, rising 30cm in the space of 30 minutes.

Two hundred people were evacuated from the Maroochy River Resort to Buderim Mountain State School and many Bradman Ave residents followed suit as their front yards and the river blurred into one.

Houses and caravans at Golden Beach were flooded and businesses at the eastern end of Bowman Rd and lower end of Bulcock St, Caloundra, went under up to 0.5m of water.

The lake at Mountain Creek rose 4m, reportedly flooding five homes to start with.

The volume and force of the water running towards it washed away a bridge and the resultant swirling torrent ate away the backyard and foundations of one house, leaving it hanging in the air.

Roads were cut and parked cars were swallowed.

Many residents spent a sleepless night, trying to get their belongings to higher ground, while others could only watch and wait.

The water peaked between 3am and 5am on the Saturday morning.

At Pacific Paradise, one of the worst-hit areas, 36 homes were inundated.

Some streets disappeared under 2m of water, functioning as drains rather than roadways.

The flow through one property in Moomba St was estimated at 10 knots and carried away pavers, while sandbagging proved futile at a Nungo St home, where 700mm of snake-filled water washed through the home, destroying carpets and furniture.

The Department of Family Services set up shop in the Pacific Paradise Bowls Club, offering emergency cash to families for food and blankets.

Bli Bli was also hard hit. Eighteen out of 35 homes in Waterview Cres - half of the homes in the street - were awash with water higher than the levels recorded in the 1974 and 1983 floods.

A flooded Petrie Creek divided Nambour and swept knee-deep through businesses in the main street.

Campbells Timber and Hardware lost $500,000 in stock as it was half-submerged while Ray Grace Mitsubishi, near the Nambour RSL, and Northpoint Metro Ford also lost hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in parts, office equipment and fit-outs.

In Noosa Shire, council staff joined with State Emergency Service volunteers in emergency operations, closing and opening roads, clearing debris, and carrying out immediate road repairs.

The hinterland was not immune. The Eumundi-Kenilworth Road bridge over the Mary River collapsed, cutting the main route between the two towns.

The damage bill in the Maroochy Shire alone for council roads and bridges hit $1.5 million.

Factoring in the damage to state roads and bridges, and the losses incurred by businesses and residents, the flood bill ran into the multi-millions.

Damaged homes (SES figures)

Coolum 440

Marcoola 230

Mudjimba 120

Pacific Paradise 440

Bradman Ave/Broadwater Ave 250

Bli Bli 85

Godfreys Road 18

Rural 300

Total: 1883


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