Spiders were Coraki Fire and Rescue Captain Russell O’Keefe’s least favorite during the flood.
“They go for higher ground,” he told The Daily Telegraph in the second episode of the flood documentary Courage Under Water.
When the Richmond and Wilsons rivers swelled, O’Keeffe stood neck-deep in water, commanding rescue boats as spiders climbed up his face and onto his head.
“The fire station is the pinnacle of town,” said O’Keeffe. “This small island, about 150 to 200 meters wide, was inhabited by 350 people and 250 animals.”
For six days the fire station was like an island in a brown sea of polluted water. “People who stepped into the flood often got pretty bad infections after stepping barefoot and getting cuts,” he said.
On the third day, doctors were treated by helicopter.
The small community of Koraki is just one of many struggling to recover from last year’s devastating floods, the world’s fourth-worst natural disaster. More than 500 remain in emergency accommodation, and hundreds more are stuck paying mortgages on uninhabitable homes while waiting to be eligible for government buyback schemes. increase.
Courage Under Water spoke to dozens of rescuers and flood survivors to find that the tears of shared trauma are never far from the surface.
“People are still traumatized, definitely,” O’Keeffe said. “There are a lot of communities that get very uneasy when it rains.
But he has no doubt that the community will be rebuilt.
“Spending the same event so close together definitely creates a bond between many communities.As you know, there are many shared losses,” he said.
“The community as a whole seems much stronger to what happened.”
This is a sentiment shared across Northern Rivers with Lismore Mayor Steve Krieg. He had only been on the job for two months when the flood waters rose and decided to rebuild better.
“I don’t think CBD should consider relocating. I think it should be embraced and encouraged to grow,” he said. “Because it protects the central business district.”
He said it would be years before the new improvements were implemented, but would eventually mean floods would return and a “tiny army” of residents would have to rescue 4,000 people from their roofs. He said it did not mean that he had to.
“You will never witness or experience what you did 12 months ago with all the people desperate to be saved,” said Krieg.
Catch up on Episode 1 of Courage Under Water here.
Next episode 2 Monday.
https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/courage-under-water-coraki-remembers-the-floods-one-year-on/news-story/f00aa1b4b4e3e15ab5c5c7f40d5e08cc Bravery Underwater: Koraki Recalls the Flood One Year Later