Central West NSW residents heartbroken by continuous floods

When hatter Robert Carroll opened his business in Molong in central West NSW last year, he didn’t expect to see his business and community frequently flooded.

But in the year that has followed, he has received three flood warnings, each one worse than the last.

As water has receded in Molong, hit by flash flooding on Sunday, Mr Carroll has been devastated to see what the streets — which should be packed with Christmas shoppers — look like.

The main street of Molong was flooded with water on Monday. (Supplied: Robert Carroll)

“Yesterday, it was like a war zone,” he told ABC NewsRadio.

“We have no bank, we have no supermarket, post office, cafes, bars, pubs. Everything’s affected.”

In Molong, which suffered from extreme drought in 2019, the heavy rain and flash flooding over the weekend has taken hopes and positivity away, Mr Carroll said.

He said during the last flood, despite the damage suffered by businesses, “people were really positive and resilient”.

“But I think this time people are broken,” Mr Carroll said.

“Their [shop] windows are broken, they don’t know whether they can reopen, and that’s a devastating thing.”

Businesses ‘broken’ by flash floods

Molong flood water at night
Molong has been hit by flash flooding since Sunday night. (Supplied: Robert Carroll )

Flash floods continue to batter Central West NSW, with more than 222 people having to be rescued in the past 24 hours.

Mr Carroll said his shop was less affected than others because it was in a higher part of town, but water still came up to about one meter high, “from the bottom to near the top of the balcony”.

He said the main street and most of the town’s shops were located on lower ground, and they suffered more damage.

A middle-aged man in black tee and black cap standing next to a flooded shop.
Molong hatter Robert Carroll is cleaning up his shop. (Supplied: Robert Carroll )

Mr Carroll and his partner began storing sandbags 10 days ago when they received an earlier flood warning.

But when the latest flood hit the shop on Sunday night, it was too late for them to sandbag, saying the water “just came up and up and up”.

With Christmas approaching, Mr Carroll was supposed to be busy with his hat business, but he instead now helping other shop owners clean up.

He still plans to open for customers but he is also helping other businesses set up pop-up stalls.

“At the moment we’re just trying to clean the town up and support everyone that’s going through such hell,” he said.

‘The noise is defeating’

In Cowra, residents have been evacuated and the State Emergency Service (SES) has warned the nearby Lachlan River is rising much faster than expected.

Inflows into the Wyangala Dam, east of Cowra, caused spills to peak yesterday at a record rate of 230,000 megalitres.

A huge dam sends masses of water down the Lachlan River.
Water has spilled out of Wyangala Dam and traveled down the Lachlan River, increasing the flood risk for already soaked towns. (Supplied: Over and Above Photography )

As the spills occurred, Cowra resident and photographer Andrew Briggs was using drones to capture images of the water surging out.

“It’s just huge and the noise is deafening,” he said.

“Normally you wouldn’t have any gates open, so you get a little flow of water coming down, but nothing like this.”

Mr Briggs is now back in Cowra, watching the river slowly going down.

He also also drones to take photos of the floods, and he has been asked by other residents, who have been unable to return home, to check on their properties.

A birdview of flooded Cowra.
Photographer Andrew Briggs has been using drones to take photos of Cowra.(Supplied: Over and Above Photography )

“The town’s currently cut in half. Our main bridge is closed. So a lot of people live in north Cowra and they can’t get to west Cowra to see what’s happening,” he said.

“From people I’ve spoken to and the old copies in town, 1950 was the last time we got anything like this.”

Mr Briggs said residents were using social media to check on each other and offer support to those affected by the floods.

“Everyone sort of pitched in and is helping any way they can,” he said.

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