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FLOODS BRING DISASTER At least 10 shires have been declared a disaster area, including the timber town of Nannup…      

Jack Bornatici ruefully surveys the deluged town’s streets

Taking to the boats—young David Black checks a mailbox.    

Nannup resident Jack Bornatici will

remember 1982 as the year he was able to moor his boat to the STOP sign in the main street.

For the people of Nannup, a little tim‐ ber town, had the horrifying experience of seeing a big part of their town sub‐ merged by raging floodwaters.

Nannup was one of the last towns to fall victim to devastating summer floods which have swept over vast areas of WA’s southwest, killing at least 100,000 sheep, wrecking buildings, bridges and roads and ruining stored grain.

A southerly remnant of a cyclone (which had initially threatened north‐ west towns) intensified, and record‐ breaking rains caused damage that will

run into millions of dollars.

Before the floodwaters of the Blackwood River descended on Nannup, residents had worked round the clock to evacuate low‐lying houses. Jack Bornatici, who lives on high ground, says sombrely: “I was one of the lucky ones.”

Jack took The Weekly’s team for an unforgettable tour of the flooded streets of Nannup. The water had risen to a re‐ cord 11.6m above normal. Fifty houses lay submerged, the river roared like a

waterfall.

Here and there forlorn heaps of furni‐ ture were piled on roofs just centimetres above the floods. Around them swirled bobbing fruit from the town’s many

orchards.

Only the top storey of Pam and Allan Porter’s newly‐renovated house had its head above the flood. “I’ve been working on that for more than two years, and I’d just done the final painting.” said Allan.

The Porters and other flood victims

have been told they are eligible for $2000 in government relief. They are glad to have the aid, though Allan estimates re‐ storing the house will cost thousands. “I didn’t have flood insurance cover be‐ cause of the enormous premium. A lot of people are in the same situation,” he

said.

“It’s been a traumatic experience.” said Frances Crothers. Her sister Lorna Doe added: “I reckon the worst part is yet to come—the cleaning up.”    

Mrs Edna Longbottom and her hus‐ band wondered if the house they have lived in for 50 years will be habitable again.

Floodwaters hundreds of metres wide separated Nannup Shire President Keith Dean (“I’ve snatched less than two hours’ sleep in two days”) from his fam‐ ily. “My wife and children are on the other side of the river. My brothers and their families are there, too. It’ll be two or three days before the waters are down enough for me to join them.”

Nannup forestry chief Bruce Harvey, who co‐ordinated the local emergency service team, praised the “magnificent efforts” of all the helpers. “About 150 people have been involved with the res‐ cue effort which, out of a town popula‐ tion of about 400, is pretty good.” he said with pride.

As the floodwaters began to descend on Nannup, the WA Government declared 10 southern shires national dis‐ aster areas. Further shires were under consideration.

Meanwhile, Nannup prepares for weeks, even months, of mopping up.  

—KIM DOUGLAS   Pictures: Joe Willner

     

A duck was just about the only one to find a dry spot.

Shire president Keith Dean. Below: Where the bridge was.

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