River explodes through property
NYMBOIDA couple Rod and Jenny Zietsch are dealing with numbness and despair after their idyllic rural property was torn apart during a terrifying few hours on Friday night and Saturday morning.
The couple and their son, Nic, were woken by a thundering roar early on Saturday morning when a massive concrete bulkhead containing the pipes feeding water from the Nymboida River to the power station blew apart, allowing the floodwater from the swollen river to crash into the creek running through their property.
The gently sloping creek bed has been replaced by a gigantic yawning chasm with 30- to 40-metre-deep sides about 50 metres across.
The water also blasted aside foundations of a third pipeline which takes water from the Nymboida River to the power station as well as Coffs Harbour and Grafton water supplies.
Mr Zietsch said there was a 40-metre section of this pipeline, "hanging in mid air".
The torrent also washed away the family's access to the Armidale road, isolating the family for the foreseeable future.
He said Bureau of Meteorology figures of the flood height of the Nymboida revealed the time of the blow-out.
"At around 2am the flood height suddenly drops about half a metre," he said.
"That's when the bulkhead collapsed and the water started to come down the hill through the property.
After being awakened by the roaring of the water Mr Zietsch investigated the source of the noise.
Where there was once a "swimming hole" he was confronted by a four-metre-high wall of water pouring down the hill.
"At first I thought we were going to lose the house," Mr Zietsch said.
"The creek was only 20 metres from the house and we didn't know what was going to happen."
Mr Zietsch, an artist and sculptor, has been building and adding to the house since the family moved there 30 years ago.
"The building is a reflection of us and our lives and all our twists and turns," he said.
He said he was not sure what was going to happen, but said he would be seeking some advice on what to do next.
"I don't know what they can do to fix it," Mr Zietsch said.
"A million loads of dirt wouldn't fill what's there now."