Eubalong spirit strong ahead of river peak

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The Lachlan River can peak at eight meters at Condobolin and Euabalong in west central New South Wales, but the community is confident they have beaten the deluge.

Patrick Byrnes, a gold digger from Euabalong, said although his home was flooded, the resilience and strong community spirit gave hope that Thursday’s spike will not overwhelm the small town.

“It’s unreal. The effort we put in was enough to keep the water out,” he told AAP from the Royal Hotel.

“Every day we have farmers bringing in loaders and trucks and they just dig a big hole that surrounds the city.”

Nonetheless, the NSW SES issued an evacuation order on Wednesday evening warning residents of the township to leave ahead of Thursday’s peak, which is expected to be above 1952 levels.

The evacuees were told to report to the Royal Hotel, with a flight from Euabalong being arranged.

The city center hotel has become a hub for emergency response teams including firefighters, SES volunteers, NSW police, Singaporean rescue teams and the Australian Defense Force, where staff prepare meals and the inhabitants can rest.

Mr Byrnes and his wife stayed with friends and ended up in the pub after grueling hours of flood mitigation and he is confident their work will pay off.

“We’ve done it. I’ve been building the levee all day and I’m very confident we’ll beat it (the 8m flood peak),” Mr Byrnes said.

“The whole community rallied on this one.”

He said his experience as a miner working on an underground loader couldn’t come at a better time.

“It’s an aging population so not everyone knew what to do and working in the mines for so many years was convenient in terms of structure and that’s what we did. We turned it into an operation 24 hours”.

He said volunteers at the Northparkes copper and gold mine, near the mid-west town of Parkes, were key to keeping the town safe by putting sandbags around the clock .

“Every day they send guys to us and that’s why the levee is still up,” Byrnes told AAP.

In Bourke, the main flood peak on the Barwong-Darling River is now approaching levels above the 1998 flood record, with a peak also expected on Thursday.

The Murrumbidgee River at Balranald Weir Downstream also heads to a peak of 7.3m.

Key areas of interest for the NSW SES over the next three days include communities along the Lachlan – as well as the towns of Narrandera, Walgett, Bourke, Hay, Albury, Echuca, Mildura and Wentworth and Deniliquin and Moulamein.

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