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Flood survivors and rescuers came together to remember and record their experiences of the 1955 Floods in Maitland.
Memories come flooding back
Over two days in May 2010, 36 residents of the Hunter came together to tell their stories of the devastating 1955 Maitland flood for a documentary film being made as part of the CMA's flood education program.
Some were reluctant to recall the memories of the flood; although it was 55 years ago, the events in the Lower Hunter in February 1955 were some of the most dramatic of their lives. So it was with great courage and generosity that survivors and rescuers reunited to record their stories and pay tribute to the humanity and resilience of the Maitland community.
Various groups were brought together based on their experiences sharing a common thread; there were stories from the hotels, the Post Office, the farms, the surf clubs, the Hill, Central Maitland, Oakhampton, Mount Pleasant Street, and stories of survival.
Joan Whatman recalled how she, her husband and their 6 month old daughter were rescued from a barn on their Millers Forest farm by lifesavers from Stockton Surf Club. They included Don Farley and Harry 'Rowly' Rowlatt, who sat beside her as she remembered the joy of seeing the surfboat approaching after being stranded for over 12 hours without food or water.
But thanks to the experience and bravery of the surf lifesavers, and other rescuers who came to their aid, the Whatmans were transferred safely to Raymond Terrace. The following day the Stockton surf lifesavers, having fulfilled their civic duties, rowed all the way home where they almost certainly enjoyed a cold beer and a well-earned rest.
Local historian Peter Bogan deserves special acknowledgement for the huge contribution he has made to the project in contacting flood survivors, historical research, and coordinating the recording sessions. The documentary will be in production over the coming months and details of its availability will be provided through Catchment News and on the CMA website. To put your name down for a DVD copy, please contact Amanda Hyde on 4930 1030.