Betteridge sisters conquer flood

19th May 2017 5:30 AM
Lismore's Betteridge sisters, Emily and Mary, were more afraid of the snakes than the water that was roaring down Leycester Creek behind their house. Lismore's Betteridge sisters, Emily and Mary, were more afraid of the snakes than the water that was roaring down Leycester Creek behind their house. Marc Stapelberg

LISMORE'S Betteridge sisters, Emily and Mary, were more afraid of the snakes than the water that was roaring down Leycester Creek behind their house.

Mary still remembers the large brown snakes they saw swimming through the 1954 flood waters.

The arrival of snakes on their porch this flood was an unwelcome reminder of what else floodwater brings.

The sisters, who have lived in the same house in South Lismore since the age of 4, were cut off in their home for the duration of the flood.

"It was a funny flood,” Mary said.

"I've never seen the water with waves in it and waves as high as that.

"The waves came one after the other.

"I knew we were in for a flood.

"I said to the neighbours to give me their chooks for our anti-flood roost.”

The sisters warned their neighbours as they could see the incredible power of the water from the back of their garden which overlooks Leycester Creek.

Mary went into town and got supplies and the sisters waited.

They felt safe as the house had been raised to survive floods although the back garden was exposed to the creek.

"If this house went under then God help Lismore as the Base Hospital and St Vincent's would also have gone under.”

The actual riverbank behind them didn't fare so well.

"Every tree, every shrub is gone and it was planted long before 1962,” Mary said of the planted area out the back of their house that overlooks the creek.

"They had huge root systems and they have just disappeared.”

The sisters lost power, the telephone and eventually the radio.

They are familiar with floods, having had to catch a boat to work during the 1954 floods.

They survived on bread, cold meats and fruit until the water eventually subsided and well-wishes popped in to check on the 85-year-olds situation.

Good Samaritans from Grafton stopped by with canned pet food which the sisters kindly offered to pay for, as they are avid pet owners and animal carers.

Of course, the offer was declined and the pet food provided for all pets along the street.

"For the people who lost everything we feel so sorry for them.

"We know people who have lost everything.”