Wollombi cut off in weekend deluge

Torrential rain hit Cessnock City on Saturday, resulting in flash flooding and a number of road closures.

Wollombi was one of the worst affected areas, as the large front travelled down from Northern NSW.

Caroline Maul of Mulla Villa Guest House was one of many Wollombi residents and local business owners who took to Facebook to warn travellers and advise drivers of the dangerous conditions.

“We were warned by the news to be ready for some heavy rain,” she said.

“Tourists and locals were able to move safely around Wollombi town up to about 10pm.

“Then as the night progressed we got the storm and by daybreak we were cut off from both directions.”

Several roads in the Wollombi Valley were under large volumes of water and according to a report on Facebook, the Brickmans gauge indicator showed eight metres – six metres over the safe level.

The flood peaked around 4pm Sunday and by dropped within hours, with the roads to Sydney and Wollombi open late that evening.

Concerned residents are now asking questions in regards to the Millfield flood alarm, which failed to go off.

“There was once again no warning to advise Wollombi and surrounds that we were going to flood,” Ms. Maul said.

“Local business owners and residents had to use their own judgment on what was to be done to save stock, lives and property.

“Maybe we could have flood signs at various points; some people of the community like ourselves would put them out.”

Col Maybury of Kurri Landcare has apologised for the failure of the flood alarm, which was found to be faulty.

Following floods earlier this year, a new danger level was established for the alarm but it is believed to have been damaged by debris.

The alarm is still under warranty and will be replaced.

Mr. Maybury did confirm that low level alarms in Weston and Abermain did go off on Saturday night but is calling on the council to establish a more sufficient warning system for the area.

“This is something that has gone on too long,” he said.

“The council and the government seem to be playing a waiting game.

“They keep funding flood studies and then putting forward recommendations but nothing actually happens. 

“Kurri Landcare has now funded, from their own resources, to put in these switches knowing they might only be a temporary solution.

“Not one person from council or the Department of Environment seems to have any sympathy for the people in Weston.”

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, 21mm of rain fell in Cessnock in the 24 hours up to 9am on Saturday followed by 38.3mm up to 9am Sunday.

This was just short of the monthly high, which occurred on Monday, February 11 at 43.2mm.

Rain is expected to continue until at least next Tuesday.

A number of roads were expected to be closed until later this week.

Motorists are advised to drive to the conditions of the road and not to drive through flood waters.

For more information on flooding closure, visit the council website at http://www.cessnock.nsw.gov.au/ environment/flood/closures.

For urgent assistance contact the SES on 132500.

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Rain forces show cancellation

The wet weather also led to the cancellation of Cessnock Show, which was called off on Saturday afternoon.

Events went ahead as planned on the Friday, with rides and a solid turnout for the pavilion events which show coordinator Pat Ptolemy described as a “beautiful sight”. 

“Cessnock High did really well, with a lot of cooking and handicrafts. They put on a big show,” Mr. Ptolemy said.

“Unfortunately not many people braved the weather, which is understandable but still disappointing.”

A special mention was also made to Rebecca Robertson, who was the winner of the Best-in-Show for her cross-stitch entry.

By Saturday the rain had well and truly set in and even an open-gate was not enough to attract the crowds.

RISING: Great North Road, Wollombi around 8am Sunday morning. Photo: Caroline Maul.

RISING: Great North Road, Wollombi around 8am Sunday morning. Photo: Caroline Maul.

WET: The Basin on Mount View Road at about 5pm Saturday.

WET: The Basin on Mount View Road at about 5pm Saturday.

With the cancellation of all ring events as well as the highly anticipated High Velocity trick riders, the show was eventually cancelled – a disappointing outcome for the committee and all who had contributed.