March 17-18 1978: THE area may be gripped in drought now, but it was a way different story back in March 1978.
FLOOD HAVOC screamed the front page of the Manning River Times on Tuesday March 21, detailing ‘what was shaping as the district’s biggest flood this century.’
“At midday yesterday the river at Taree was 18 foot 18¼ inches and rising, just below the record 1929 flood of 19 foot,’’ the report continued.
“Taree, Wingham and outlying centres were completely isolated by rising flood waters. About 70 homes in Taree and Wingham had to be evacuated while air force helicopters were called in to winch stranded people from roof tops. High stock losses were also reported while fast flowing flood waters left the Martin Bridge unsafe for traffic.’’
There were catastrophic scenes at Taree Estate, another report said.
“Women and children brought in by helicopter from homes on the estate yesterday morning were shocked and weeping. One of the first people rescued by helicopter was Mr B Northam, his wife and daughter, Lois. Mr Northam said he spent the night in the ceiling of his home.’’
Manning Shire president Cr Ray Gillogy described the damage as a ‘national disaster’ as he stepped down from an RAAF helicopter.
“It’s only from up in the air you can see it - it’s indescribable,’’ he told the Times.
Days later the Manning district councils launched a joint appeal for victims of the flood while State leader of the National Country Party, Leon Punch and NSW leader of the opposition, Peter Coleman, inspected flood damage, accompanied by federal minister for primary industry, Ian Sinclair.
The Times produced a special pictorial feature on the floods and donated all proceeds to the appeal.
Photographer Robert Simpson captured the drama for the Times, assisted by Alan Small from Taree Photographics and Ray Mears from Raymond Studios.