As Molong rebuilds yet again, a difficult conversation awaits
November 14, 2022
By Peter Holmes
It is not a question for today or tomorrow, next week or next month.
There is simply too much devastation in the flood-prone little town of Molong to be worrying about it right now.
But the question - should Molong be redesigned and rebuilt so as to become reasonably flood-proof? - is one the town of about 2,500 will ultimately need to wrestle with, according to long-time local and active community member Aaron Pearson.
“I think there is going to have to be a conversation taking place, because we seem to be the classic victim for floods,” he told The Orange News Examiner on Monday night. “The three levels of government will need to be involved.”
Pearson spent some time on Monday morning helping remove damaged stock and furniture from an antique shop on Bank Street, the main thoroughfare.
He described the scene as “pretty much disastrous … shops were gutted, it looked like a hurricane had been through”.
Asked about the mood among shop owners, he said: “They were very depressed, very shaken, upset. A number of people were in tears - it was horrible to see. It’s hard to tell really [how long a rebuild may take], a lot of businesses are saying ‘Closed until further notice’.”
Bank Street is on a slope, and Pearson said there was a cut-off point along the street around a butcher shop above which shops were safe.
“Everything below was swallowed up,” he said.
Pearson, 36, has lived in Molong for 20 years. “The last time I saw flooding of this kind was back in 2005. I’ve spoken to various people and they say this is worse than 2005. Opinions vary.”
As far as he is aware everyone in town is safe - the community stays in touch via phone, social media and by door knocking - but he knows of people who have lost their homes.
“On Bank Street homes looked like they were pretty much under,” he said.
“A friend’s family lives on Old Dairy Lane, they’ve lost everything … I know one family that insurance won’t cover their loss. They’re just at the finishing stages of a renovation, and were going to move in a couple of weeks. The floorboards, the walls, all have to be replaced.”
Meanwhile, communities in Molong and elsewhere are rallying around.
“Please spread to anyone and everyone who needs a feed or some amazing baked goods,” read one post in a Molong social media page on Monday. “A supply of bread, cakes, slices etc have arrived at The Coachhouse on the village green and is here for anyone who needs it. Please let people know.”
The items were believed to have been donated by The Sugar Mill in Orange.
A cooked breakfast and tea and coffee will be available at the same venue on Tuesday morning from about 7:30.
Leish & Co pet groomers was coordinating donations for pet owners in Molong and surrounds.
“We have dog food, cat food, kitten food, treats, kitty litter, blankets, towels, jackets & more. Please reach out to us for absolutely anything at all!” they said in a social media post.
BNB homeowners in Orange are offering their properties to those who have been displaced by flooding across the Central West.
Describing the situation in places such as Eugowra, Canowindra, Forbes and Molong as “heartbreaking”, BNB Made Easy’s Tim Mortimer said he had made contact with owners of the properties the company represents.
“Many of the homeowners have been very generous,” he said in a video posted to social media on Monday night.
BNB Made Easy asked that anyone who had been displaced, or knew someone who had, call 0488 828 736 to discuss available options.
On Monday night the Molong Show, on this Saturday and Sunday, was cancelled.
State MP Phil Donato visited Molong on Monday.
"This was one the largest flood events in recent memory," he said. "My heart goes out to those impacted by this as the clean-up and rebuild commences. With Christmas only six weeks away many businesses were gearing up for a busy retail period. Now this!"