‘We won’t last’: Woman’s desperate plea answered
The old farmhouse Tiffany Urquhart called home northeast of Taree with her husband and 11-year-old daughter with special needs was about to become her family's tomb.
She posted a frantic message to an online community noticeboard on Friday night with fellow group members aghast and helpless as the family battled for life.
"Please come and help us," the 31-year-old began before recounting how the State Emergency Service was unable to reach their Ghinni Ghinni home until morning.
"The water is rising. We won't last that long."
Ms Urquhart's story of survival, like so many across the flood ravaged mid north coast, involved the community rallying to her aid.
"We rang triple-0 for help, but no one came," Ms Urquhart, 31, a local chef, told The Daily Telegraph yesterday.
"It was our friend Rob Macpherson who works for the Rural Fire Service at Harrington that got police out and he organised his mates from the RFS from Coopernook to meet us at the highway.
"We were already waist deep in water. The State Emergency Service told us there were no boats or helicopters in the area and they would get back to us in the morning.
"When police and RFS got us out they said with the king tide we wouldn't have survived to morning. We have lost everything."
The Urquharts are in shock, they had no warning or text message to evacuate.
Shock is now mixing with fear on the mid north coast which yesterday resembled an inland sea from which the occasional soaked cow came ashore.
Locals who have endured years of drought, then bushfires which devoured 300 homes, the pandemic and now a flooding catastrophe face even more rain.
The coastal low pressure system which has pounded Taree with a 454mm deluge in four days, 416mm in Kendall, 409mm in Laurieton and 370mm in Port Macquarie could merge with a weather system from the NT with any "thermal draw" creating more rain into Tuesday.
A list of towns including Crescent Head, South West Rocks and Harrington are cut off with dwindling supplies.
State government officials were locked in urgent meetings yesterday to work out how to get essentials to tens of thousands of stranded people.
"I am at an evacuation centre, there are people here that have lost everything and haven't even got the clothes on their back," Taree mayor David West said.
The mayor said he is at a loss to know how the community will cope after the barrage of disasters.
"During the bushfires I was devastated with people that had lost everything, I am now devastated people have lost everything again. You can't do anything to alleviate their pain and suffering," he said.
"We had a high suicide rate because of the bushfires and heaven forbid what it will be after this."
Among those who have lost everything are Joshua Edge and Sarah Soars from Mondrook, whose home was captured in stunning footage washing away on what was meant to be their wedding day. Their beloved dog, Lilly, was inside. "She would have been so scared," Mr Edge told the Today show.
"We loved all of our animals … the pain that they had to go through."
The community has raised more than $80,000 to help them rebuild.
SES spokesman Dave Rankine said warnings were issued hours ahead of orders to evacuate in the early hours of Saturday morning.
"We have had 611 flood rescues on the mid north coast, currently there are 86 outstanding," he said.
Taree Business Chamber vice president John Stevens said hundreds of businesses across the region in Taree, Wingham, Gloucester and Stroud had been inundated. Port Macquarie's CBD has also been devastated.
Dairy and cattle farmers have been particularly hard hit with hundreds of animals washed away, many prime herd worth $8000-$9000 each. Some have had a miracle survival, including one Mr Stevens saw running down the main street of Taree.
A calf was pulled from the surf by life savers at Old Bar metres from disappearing into the Pacific Ocean.
Farmer Peter Bowie owned both the black Angus calf which washed up at Old Bar beach, about 30km from where it went into the Manning River, and the cottage Mr Edge and Ms Soars lived in.
Almost 192 cows - many who survived the black summer bushfires at his previous property in Braidwood - were washed away with dozens since found alive.
"About 50 of the cows that went down the river had been in the fires at Braidwood, to rub salt into their wounds they went for a swim," he said.
Local Member and Water Minister Melinda Pavey thanked the "angel" volunteers who had stepped up to help. "The extremes Mother Nature is throwing us won't defeat the communities of the mid north coast," she said.
Originally published as 'We won't last': Woman's desperate plea answered