10a["The River in Flood", The Northern Times (Carnarvon, WA), Saturday 23 January 1909, page 2]
THE RIVER IN FLOOD.--As a result of the heavy rain experienced from Onslow via Winning Pool right across to Peak Hill, the Gascoyne River came down a banker about two o'clock this morning, and continued to rise steadily till we went to press at seven o'clock, when it was within two inches of the big flood mark of two years ago. Some damage has been done to the tramline and also to the foreshore in Olivia Terrace, but the extent of this is not yet known. It will be high tide about noon to-day, so probably the flood will reach a higher point yet.
10b["A Disastrous Flood", The Northern Times (Carnarvon, WA), Saturday 30 January 1909, page 2]
A DISASTROUS FLOOD.
OVERFLOW OF THE GASCOYNE RIVER.
SERIOUS DAMAGE TO PROPERTY.
PORTION OF OLIVIA TERRACE SWEPT AWAY.
When the news was wired through last week that exceptionally heavy rains had fallen at Onslow, Winning Pool, and Peak Hill it was realised that a consequence would be the flooding of the Gascoyne River. And as good rains experienced a week or two previously had caused several of the tributaries of the Gascoyne to run bankers, even causing the parent river to run as far as Brick House, a flood bigger than usual was predicted. This, despite the fact that only a few points of rain, barely sufficient to lay the dust had been experienced within a twenty-miles radius of Carnarvon. As things have turned out, it was indeed fortunate that heavy local rain did not fall concurrently with the storm which visited the places above referred to, otherwise the damage done to property here might have been appalling. The approach of the flood was generally known late on Friday night, Mr. Sept. Burt telephoning from Brick House station that the water then reached from bank to bank and was rising fast. It was between one and two o'clock on Saturday morning when the flood was noticeable at the bridge over the river, and so fast did the water rise that by four o'clock it had overflowed its bank and covered the roadway in front of the Northern Times office, spreading through several allotments right through to Cleaver-street. About this time house holders in the lower portion of the town were fully awake to the danger which threatened them, and lights flitting here and there told of operations being carried out for the preservation of honsehold chattels and livestock of various kinds. By six o'clock the flood had reached the high water mark of the big flood of March, 1907. It kept about this level for some hour or so, but with the approach of high tide rose several additional inches, and by noon was fully five inches higher than the 1907 high-water mark. The water was by now two feet deep in Mr. Batty's black smith shop and the same depth in Mr. Boor's drapery shop. It reached up Robinson-street to a spot in front of the bar door of the Settlers' Hotel, the yard and stables of which were covered to a depth of a foot or more; Mr. Hay's watch maker's shop was awash, and Mr. Crake's chemist shop was surrounded; it ran through the houses tenanted by Mrs. Salmond and Mr. Geyer in Olivia Terrace, the flood mark on the skirting boards showing a depth of three inches; it was several feet deep at the premises occupied by Mr. Grant; it surrounded Mr. Waldeck's house, just reaching to the flooring of the verandah; and it was within a few feet of the main entrance to the Carnarvon Hotel in Olivia Terrace. The house occupied by Mr. H. Atkinson in Forrest street was inundated to a depth of several feet. In Cleaver-street Mr. von Bibra's
factory, and Mr. G. Atkinson's private house were surrounded, the water being fully two feet deep; Mr. Fenner's house was rendered uninhabitable by reason of there being a depth of two feet of water inside it; the Japanese laundry and Mr. Ellis's house in Baston-street fared equally badly. Further along Cleaver-street the house occupied by Mr. Hewitt was surrounded, the roadway from the house to the corner of Cleaver and Francis-streets being a sheet of water. The houses in the block bounded by Cleaver, Crowther and Brown-streets and Olivia Terrace and occupied by Mrs. Carroll, Mr. Turnock, Mrs. D'Atta, Mk McNicoll, Mr. Lamb, and Mr. H. Mills were surrounded. The recreation ground was completely covered, the house tenanted by Mr. H. Green, and which adjoins it on the north side being rendered, like many of the others previously mentioned, temporarily unfit for occupation. In Stuart-street the houses occupied by Messrs. Offer and Newman and Mr. W. H. Batty's house were surrounded, the water running through the latter at six o'clock in the morning. Standing in Robinson street and looking towards Yankee Town nothing but a vast expanse of water, relieved here and there by the tops of bushes and shrubs, could be seen. At an early hour in the morning many of the occupiers of houses in the low-lying portion of the town sought fresh quarters. Several townspeople, at great personal inconvience to themselves, lent a helping hand to those unfortunately situated, and others again, also at inconvenience to themselves, extended hospitality and dry lodging to flooded-out householders. It was an occasion for the exhibition of that sympathy which goes far to smooth the ruggedness of life's journey, and it is a matter for congratulation that good Samaritans still exist, and that within our midst. Standing on the bridge and looking towards the lighthouse, flood waters could be seen on either side of the tramline right up to the sand hills, and the safety of the line itself was regarded as hopeless. The indicating board affixed under the bridge showed that the flood water was 8ft. 4in. above the low tide level, The water reached to within about 18 inches of the top of the fascine. If it had overflowed this the safety of the resident magistrate's house, the court house, and police quarters, as well as the houses across the street, would have been greatly imperilled. No appreciable fall occurred in the flood before Saturday evening, but during the night it dropped several inches, raising again however at about five o'clock on Sunday morning, when it is supposed the Peak Hill water came down. It fell again rapidly, and by Sunday afternoon the gauge at the bridge showed the depth to be two feet four inches less. It is said that the big flood of 1883 was slightly higher than this year's, but owing to the fact that since then the contour of the river banks has greatly changed, it is difficult for the old residents to arrive at a correct comparison.
In one respect, and that a bad one, the flood just experienced has an unenviable record; it has caused more damage to roadways and private property than any preceding ones. The chief damage done was the complete sweeping away of Olivia Terrace from a spot a few yards south of the Carnarvon Hotel to the premises owned by Mr. Baston and occupied by Capt Mills. Some few weeks back the municipal council had a fence erected along this portion of Olivia Terrace as a safe guard to the public, there being at the narrowest point about eighteen feet of roadway. Early on Saturday morning it was seen that portion of this fence had been carried away, and bit by bit the balance was taken as the roadway fell into the all-devouring flood. The house occupied by Mr. Jas. Atkinson now presents a sorry appearance. On Saturday evening the occupants of it realised their danger and sought fresh lodgings, the water by this time having taken the iron fence separating the property from the Terrace and commenced its ravages at the verandah. About six o'clock on Sunday morning half the house (which is a brick one) subsided into the flood. The bricks, timber, and iron made a shelving bank and prevented further damage to the house, which conjoins that of Mrs. Hough. Immediately in the rear of Mrs. Hough's is a house occupied by Mr. G. Atkinson, senr. The dividing fence between his property and that of Mr. Jas. Atkinson now make
the bank of the river. The three new cottages owned by Mr. Hearn and occupied by Messrs. McNicoll, Lamb and Mills respectively were previously some 30 feet from the river bank. Now the buildings are on the edge of the bank and they are all undermined. The iron fence on the river side
of Capt. Mills' house (owned by Mr. Baston) was carried completely away. Several yards of the garden have also disappeared, and the only thing which saved the dwelling house itself was the palm and pepper trees growing at the danger spot, the roots of which bound the earth
together. Capt. Iverson's warehouse is now about four yards only from the river bank, and as the latter is very steep here and constant erosions must take place with each high tide, the necessity for its prompt removal is apparent. In Japantown several of the coloured men had a bad time. Jimmy Dux's bouse was carried away bodily and so also was another occupied by Ah Tow. Two other houses were palled down by their occupants to save the building' material. The house occupied by Mr. Hewitt in Cleaver-street, one of the old buildings of the town, and which was constructed of pug, was cracked in various places and the subsidence of the walls may take place at any time. In front of the Carnarvon Hotel and Mr. Pery's residence the roadway has been reduced by many yards. The bank is some 10ft. high and the erosion must therefore continue with high tides, it being merely a question of time before the safety of the two buildings mentioned is endangered. At Mr. Batty's blacksmith shop (at the other or north end of the town) the flood waters played sad havoc. A waggon, a dray, and other vehicles were standing close to the building, and stacked against it on one side were some thirty bags of coal. The water churned big boles round the vehicles, which sub sided into them, and when the flood was in progress the top of the dray was not visible. The bags of coal subsided into a hole similarly scoured out. No great damage was done to the other houses mentioned, but the discomfort occasioned by the river debris and evil-smelling mud can be imagined. Mrs. Morgan's and Mrs. Smith's houses were surrounded, but at neither did the water enter the house.
An inspection of the tramline on Sunday afternoon revealed that some 600 yards of ballast had been carried away, whilst much more was rendered unsafe for traffic. There were twelve distinct breaks, the longest being a stretch of about 200 yards. The bridges stood well. The efficacy of the channels cut under the longest of these bridges is doubtful. They no doubt carried off a good deal of water, but this quantity was infinitesimal compared with the volume of flood. The tramline was only completed just before Christmas, and it is unfortunate that this heavy expense has been occasioned. By many people it is thought the only way to secure a safe permanent way is to construct a low bridge from the river bridge to the sand hills. This would prove of heavy initial expense, but the work would be permanent and moreover the flood waters by flowing underneath without hindrance would be diverted to a considerable extent from the town. On Tuesday a small gang of men were put on to make temporary repairs, and an effort will be made to push on the work so that goods may be brought up from the jetty next week.
Yesterday Mr. Hearn received a telegram from Perth stating that the Government were sending up a competent officer to report on the damage done, and that Mr. Butcher, M.L.A., was doing his best for all concerned.
At Yankee Town the chief damage was caused to roads, which are in a deplorable condition, in places great channels running across what was formerly the roadway. A hole 9 ft. deep and several yards long was washed ont at the entrance to the slaughter yards and another one at the entrance to Mr. Lewer's property. The properties of Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Camp bell also suffered in this respect. The house and garden leased from Mr. G. J. Brockman by Mr. Ellice were damaged a good deal, and so also was the garden occupied by the Chinaman Ah Tie. In places the river bank now shows a sheer drop of 10 or 12 feet where formerly it was a shelving one. It is estimated that it will take several weeks to repairs the roads.