FLASHBACK: 'Flood of the Century' ravages Gympie
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WHEN Gympie was ravaged by raging flood waters in 1992, and again when the mighty Mary River reached a record peak for the 20th century seven years later, The Gympie Times was there to provide comprehensive disaster (and post-disaster) coverage.
Special flood editions flowed from the Times office on February 11 and 12 after the 1999 deluge reached historic proportions. The Mary River rises eventually peaked "in excess of 22 metres”.
In yet another special flood edition on February 18, Cooloola Shire had been "declared a disaster area and last night Gympie was bracing itself for what is predicted to be the largest flood of this century”.
"Yesterday, the Mary River rose throughout the morning at half a metre per hour, some of the most rapid stream rises ever witnessed once the river had reached a height of more than 16m,” the report read.
"At 2pm, it was 18.65 metres and had risen for the last five hours at half a metre per hour.
"The flood has already caused major damage in a number of areas throughout Cooloola Shire and has reached heights higher than the previous two biggest floods this century, March 28, 1955, 21.44 metres and February 22, 1992, 21.4 metres.”
Cooloola Shire Mayor Mick Venardos was reported as saying the council was "bracing itself for a massive repair bill” bigger than the "$2.1 million road repair bill of 1992”.
Director of Engineering Bob Fredman expected "major damage to the water supply at both Tin Can Bay and Cooloola Village” and urged people to "conserve water where possible”.
A Jubilee St mineshaft collapsed, "tearing out a section of the water supply main, leaving some residences without water”.
"Throughout the day businesses and homes in the low-lying areas of the city were evacuated as owners and helpers went through the regimented process of removing all goods,” the report continued.
"A bus load of tourists has been stranded in the town and the highway south of Gympie is now home to a number of semi-trailer drivers trapped between rising flood waters from the Six Mile Creek area to Skyring Creek.
"It is expected helicopter food drops will be needed to these people today.”
The possibility of a record for the century was also questioned during the peak of the February 1992 floods.
The February 25 front page report said the district was in recovery mode following the "second biggest flood of the century”.
"The monster flood was caused by torrential rain which started on Thursday,” the report read.
Pages of photos took up huge amounts of space in the flood specials, giving locals an in-depth look at the disaster.