Australian residents and horses trapped on bridge by rising floodwaters

Floodwaters swallowed both ends of arched bridge and stranded residents and livestock overnight

Maroosha Muzaffar
Tuesday 01 March 2022 10:47 GMT
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A submerged shed is seen on the bank of overflowing Clarence River in Grafton, some 130 kms from the New South Wales town Lismore on 1 March
A submerged shed is seen on the bank of overflowing Clarence River in Grafton, some 130 kms from the New South Wales town Lismore on 1 March (AFP via Getty Images)

Around 50 people and at least five horses were rescued from a bridge outside Lismore in northern New South Wales, Australia, after being stranded overnight in rising floodwaters.

The bridge over the Richmond river is located in Woodburn in southern Lismore.

Residents and their livestock were trying to escape the flood in northern NSW and took the bridge towards Lismore on Monday, but were soon marooned as water rose up and engulfed both ends of the arched bridge. Residents had to stay overnight on the bridge due to the dark and dangerous conditions, 9news reported.

Thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate as heavy rains smashed Australia’s east coast on Monday, submerging towns and stranding residents on rooftops. Authorities have also warned of life-threatening flash floods.

David Rankin, the State Emergency Service media manager for northern NSW, said residents in the community “willingly use that bridge to protect their cars so that’s a decision they have made”.

Mr Rankin added: “They took them there, with their horses, to protect themselves. There was a willingness in the community to use that asset. The community can use their local landmarks to get to safety and that’s what we want. We want people to get to high ground and we commend them for making that safe decision.”

On Tuesday morning, locals rescued the stranded people and horses by using boats. Reports said that they were transported to safety.

Cassie Smith, a Woodburn resident who spent the night on the bridge with her family and sister’s horses, said: “Everyone has lost absolutely everything, it’s absolutely devastating. It’s just like a warzone, it really is. I just don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Floodwaters claimed the life of a woman who was found inside her Lismore home on Ewing Street around 10.20 am on Tuesday.

The Bureau of Meteorology has said that the emergency continues throughout much of northern New South Wales.

A digital panoramic composite of Lismore captured from the flood line at New Ballina Road on 28 February
A digital panoramic composite of Lismore captured from the flood line at New Ballina Road on 28 February (Getty Images)

Residents of the New South Wales north coast are facing a “one-in-500-year flood” even as emergency services are working around the clock to rescue people caught in floodwaters, local reports said.

On Monday, at least eight people were killed after heavy rain inundated parts of Brisbane, in the worst floods since 2011 in Australia’s third most populous city.

A submerged shed is seen on the bank of the overflowing Clarence River in Grafton, some 130 kms from the New South Wales town Lismore on 1 March
A submerged shed is seen on the bank of the overflowing Clarence River in Grafton, some 130 kms from the New South Wales town Lismore on 1 March (AFP via Getty Images)

In a statement, Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the floods are “very different” to 2011 when rain pummelled the region for five days. In 2011, rain had stopped days before the Brisbane river peaked and authorities had warned for several days of flooding downstream.

Authorities said the downpour had left thousands of homes and properties destroyed and inundated roads and caused power outages in several parts of Brisbane.

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