Territory Stories

Katherine Times Wed 24 Jan 2018



Katherine Times Wed 24 Jan 2018


Katherine Times; NewspaperNT






Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Katherine; Katherine (N.T.) -- Newspapers

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North Australian News for Katherine Times

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Copyright. Made available by the publisher under licence.

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North Australian News for Katherine Times



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'98 FLOOD- 20 YEARS ON Wednesday January 24, 2018 KATHERINETIMES 3katherinetimes.com.au Cyclone Les weak but wet TROPICAL Cyclone Les was the first of a group of six cyclones to develop in late January and early February in 1998, according to the Bureau ofMeteorology. Les developed rapidly in the Gulf of Carpentaria and was near hurricane strength just prior to landfall on the Arnhem coast. Little damage was caused by the cyclone at landfall, however heavy rainfall and devastating floods in the Katherine region were produced by the remnant depression, causing the loss of three lives and a damage bill ranging from $100$200million. The remnants of Les continued moving west and produced gale-force winds on the Kimberley coast as the monsoon depression intensified temporarily near the coast before moving further inland. Les was born from a deep westerly monsoon surge interacted with a low embed ded in the monsoon trough in the Gulf of Carpentaria on January 20. The low started developing a more organised structure during January 22, with rainbands over the land and sea either side of the peninsula around the centre. The cyclone intensified rapidly with favourable upper outflow, attaining near hurricane strength 24 hours after initial development. A peakwind gust of 47m/s (170kmh) was recorded by a bulk ore carrier in Les 's path in this area. At this time the gale ra dius extended to 110 km. Les passed over the town of Numbulwar on themainland coast early on January 25. As ex-Les crossed the Top End of the Northern Territory during January 25 to 29 record rain fell in the catchment of the Katherine River. In the 72 hours to late January 27, 400 - 550mm was recorded, causing the most significant flood on record in the Katherine and Daly rivers. Thousands of residents in the towns of Katherine, and the communities of Mataranka, Palumpa, Peppimenarti, Daly River andBeswick were evacuated. The flood covered an area of about a thousand square km, affected 1100 dwellings and flooded every business and government office in Katherines CBD. About 640 business owners, primary producers, and contractors were affected. Road traffic was severely disrupted. BY CHRIS MCLENNAN TRACK: Cyclone Les tracked over Katherine. Bureau of Meteorology. A WEEK past her due date, pregnant Colleen Kerr was one of the first people airlifted out of Katherine during the 1998 floods. My husband volunteered for the Northern Territory Emergency Services, he was busy helping them out so I had to leave him behind, Mrs Kerr said. Mrs Kerr remembers feeling pure fear as the plane took off from the RAAF base. My word I was scared. It was raining so hard we couldnt actually take off when we were meant to. I was devastated that I had to go to Darwin. I had to leave my husband behind and knew he would not be there to see his son born. Already a week past her due date when she arrived at Darwin Hospital, Mrs Kerr would wait four more days before Brendan was born on January 29. Watching what was happening in town on the TV was horrific, Mrs Kerr said. After helping evacuate residents and days spent cleaning up the town, Mr Kerr eventually made his way up to Darwin to meet his son in early February. A week past due date during floods FAMILY SNAP: Colleen and Brian Kerr have cuddles with their newborn son Brendan in 1998, one of Katherine's flood babies. Picture: supplied. THEN AND NOW: Brendan Kerr and his mum Colleen 20 years after the devastating Katherine floods of 1998. The flood totally devastated Power Projects NT, it was only the hard work of past and present staff that got us through this disaster and made us the success we are today John Leo Director, Power Projects NT AW3441987