Archie Cross has displayed courage beyond his 13 years.
As floodwaters rose around his home town of North Haven, south of Port Macquarie on the NSW Mid North Coast on March 20, his natural instinct was to help.
The Year 7 student pushed his tinnie* out into the muddied waters on the corner of Alma St and Ocean Drive about 9am.
Over the next several hours, in the pouring rain, Archie rescued about 10 residents and a handful of pets from their inundated homes.
“We were driving up and down the neighbourhood checking on people,” Archie said.
“We were making sure people were okay and trying to convince people to come out.
“We were telling them there is a 1.5m tide coming in and that was going to see the water go a lot higher.”
North Haven teen used a tinny to help rescue flood victim
Archie’s story is one of many examples of heroism* emerging* out of the flood-ravaged* region as the massive clean-up effort stretches into the second week.
About 400mm of rain bucketed down on the Port Macquarie area on Friday March 19, sparking a succession of flood evacuations.
But phone reception was poor and the only way to get the message to residents in the flood zone was to physically find them.
Archie and his tinnie, which he regularly uses for fishing on the weekends, was among a local flotilla* that plucked vulnerable people from inundated* homes and whisked them to safety.
The teenager’s knowledge of the suburb made him aware of which streets were underwater and who would need rescuing, including an elderly man named Jack and his terrified cat.
Archie was initially with his father, but after a while he was doing rescue runs solo.
“He is very aware of the water and familiar with the streets,” mum Kylie said.
“I knew the waters weren’t running real fast in the backstreets where he was rescuing people. It was just a natural thing for him to help people … we are really proud of him.”
In some cases, residents told Archie they were waiting for the State Emergency Service, but the volunteers were flat out.
“They had to say: ‘There is no SES*, they are at capacity’ and convince them to leave,” Mrs Cross said.
By Saturday the Army, Rural Fire Service volunteers and even the Port Pirates Rugby Union Club had begun helping clean up Port Macquarie.
In one area, about 47 homes were inundated with water and there are concerns many must be demolished.
Some residents weren’t able to be home for more than a week.
Des Cremer, 71, knew it was time to evacuate when he tried to get out of bed and his feet landed in water.
By the time he had attracted the attention of SES boats as they zigzagged between homes, evacuating his neighbours, it had risen to his waist.
Yesterday his wife Rosalind was drying out family photo albums in the sun.
“We have lost everything,” Mr Cremer said. “We are looking at three to six months before we can come back in.”
RFS Illawarra group captain Andrew Sweeney said his volunteers had been cleaning up to try and restore some normality.
“It was absolutely inundated by water, it was above my head in some areas,” he said.
“We are trying to make it as pleasant as we can for the residents. It’s been very tough, they have lost everything.”
The Pirates rugby union team was on its way to Bowraville for a Saturday game when they learned the roads were still cut off.
They turned around and headed to Hastings River Drive instead to lend a hand.
“They were all straight on to it, no questions asked,” head coach Marc Minor said.
- tinny: open metal (tin) boat
- heroism: displaying the qualities of a hero
- emerging: coming out from or of
- ravaged: destroyed (by)
- inundated: flooded
- SES: State Emergency Service
- How old is Archie?
- What did he do to help?
- What did he use to move around in the flood?
- Who went with him in the beginning?
- Which of his parents is interviewed?
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1. Problems of Floods
The floods we’ve seen recently in New South Wales have devastating effects on the people and communities impacted. Work with a partner and complete the table below outlining some of the issues and possible solutions.
Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and social, Critical and Creative thinking
How could the Port Macquarie council or government acknowledge and reward the bravery of young Archie Cross and others who showed courage and bravery helping others during the flood crisis?
Write a letter to Archie congratulating him on his brave work.
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and creative thinking
Proper Noun Police
A proper noun is a noun that names a particular person, place or thing. It always has a capital letter.
How many proper nouns can you find within this article? Find them all and sort them into the category of name, place, time (date/month).
Can you find any proper nouns included in your writing?
What are they?
Can you sort them into their categories?