Morris Moss - 1893 flood

Maitland Mercury report 10 March 1893





Another disastrous flood has suddenly come upon the residents of Maitland and the Hunter River districts, bringing widespread ruin and devastation in its train, and rendering home- less hundreds of people, and, sad to say, three persons have already lost their lives. Yester- day and last night the rain fell heavily and unceasingly, but it was not until midnight, when the river had attained a height of 30ft., that a flood was anticipated. Late news from all parts which affect the Hunter in flood time was ominous. Heavy rains are falling all over the district. — At Pater- son 5in. fell in 3 hours and 20 minutes. There were 3in. at Muswellbrook, and though the river at Singleton was not reported to be above the usual level at 6 p.m.; at   half-past 10 it had risen to 17ft., and by midnight registered an additional 3ft. Early this morning came news that the telegraph line was washed away at Farley, and consequently no news has come through from that quarter.

Since before daylight this morning the residents in the Horseshoe Bend and other low lying localities were warned by the police and the ringing of the fire-alarm to prepare for the flood, and ever since people have been busy packing up and removing to places of safety. The Town Hall, School of Arts, Masonic Hall, and other public institutions are filled with refugees, and ordinary business is entirely suspended. There was no mail from Sydney last night, owing to the wash-away of the railway line between Tarro and Thornton, and no mails up or down since. The river is now up 30ft., and rising, and nothing but the embankments recently erected are saving the town, but even these are not expected to stand the strain much longer. South Maitland, Louth Park, Fishery Creek, and Dagworth are covered with water, and the police boats and water brigade boats have been busy rescuing the flooded-out families, many of whom have had narrow escapes of their lives, owing to the suddenness of the overflow from the creeks in the neighbourhood. A large portion of the town including Sparkes, Abbott, Rose, Devonshire, Albert, and Lower Bourke streets, is under water, which is over the railway line at the goods-shed, and in Lee's subdivision the water has reached the tops of the fences. There has not been such a volume of   backwater since the 1857 flood. High-street, in parts, is covered to a depth of 18in., caused by a leakage from the river. The farm lands around Bolwarra are covered to a depth of several feet from the surface water alone, while the farmers around Phoenix Park, Narrowgut, and Pitnacree have their houses and lands flooded from the river.

News from Branxton this morning reports a sad   drowning fatality. George and Alexander Russell both being drowned, as also was George Howitt, who  

gallantly attempted their rescue. John Russell, was saved, but was terribly exhausted. It is still raining, with no signs of an abatement.

News has just been received from Singleton by the Railway Department that the river is up 49ft. and rising, so there is no better prospect for the people here than to have to face the greatest flood that has ever visited the district.

4.15 p.m.

The river is still rising. A considerable gap has been made in the High-street embankment, from which large volumes of water are flowing into High street, which is almost impassable at that spot. The water is trickling over the river bank at the back of D. Cohen and Co.'s premises, and flowing over freely near Waller's and the City Bank. There are 5ft. of water in the lower part of Devonshire-street, the water in which locality is fast rising owing to the overflow from the river. The prospects are very gloomy indeed. The rain is now much lighter.

10 p.m.

The weather has moderated a little, and the river   is now about at a standstill. Still, there is every appearance of more rain. The water is flowing over the long bridge and the Oakhampton-road. The breakwater is still rising rapidly, and creeping up High-street. It is reported that two men were drowned at Louth Park to-day—viz., an elderly man named Hunt, and John Wall, a son of Mrs. Wall, of the Australian Hotel.