Emerald was awash with water in areas previously not flooded in December, 2010.
Emerald was awash with water in areas previously not flooded in December, 2010.

Flood fury history shown free

EMERALD residents who felt the full brunt of the last two major floods in Emerald are victims of history, according to the president of the Emerald and District Historical Association, Ken Self.

The Emerald community will be given the opportunity to watch a DVD created by the history association called Changing the Watercourse on Monday, September 26, at the Emerald Twin Cinemas at 7pm.

Cinema owner Allan Sweeney viewed a copy of the DVD and offered to show it in the cinema free of charge to the public. Mr Self said the members of the association were not hydrologists but history had shown that decisions made in the past had impacted significantly on the lives of many people today.

"The DVD includes a narrated history of how the watercourse has changed and a pictorial presentation with historical photographs and photos provided by professional photographers and the Emerald community, of the recent floods," he said.

The DVD will show many of the decisions were made as a result of the townspeople and town officials being lulled into a false sense of security with the development of the Fairbairn Dam.

"People became complacent and thought they were safe building on the natural watercourse," Mr Self said.

"Our great flood plain was created as a result of the water taking a certain course across Emerald and over the passage of time we have slowly filled it in, so that the flood water is forced to find new paths and levels.

"In the past railway engineers recognised the flow of that water across the flood plain and designed large wooden bridges to allow the water to take its natural course. You will be taken on a journey down the central railway line and see how those drainage points have changed."

Past Emerald Shire councillors have said there was no substitute for local knowledge. Three local identities, Hugh Donnelly, Betty Bridgeman and Don Rackley tell their stories on the DVD.

Hugh Donnelly grew up on the family property Spring Grove and the original house is still at the end of Long St today. It was a high block house but has since been lowered. Over the passage of time Mr Donnelly saw many floods in the Nogoa River.

Betty Bridgeman, a member of the Wright family, grew up in a house that would have been situated in Michelle Pl off Egan St from 1950 to 1965.

She gives her account of history through the eyes of a child growing up in what was known as Tadpole Creek and the swamp. The swamp was gradually filled in as a rubbish dump and is now Morton Park.

Don Rackley's story is significant because he was the first business owner to buy a block of land on the Northern Industrial Estate which formed part of the original flood plain.

Mr Self said the DVD would also show people the path the water now takes across Emerald and the path the controversial LN1 drain takes to the point where it drains back into the Nogoa River.

"The history association was lucky to find a progression of aerial photos of the drainage system at the height of the recent flood."

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