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FLOOD AND LOSS OF LIFE.

u The cry is still, ' they come.'" Scarcely have we had time to reckon up the losses that have accrued to us from the fearful flood of a fortnight back, than we are again visited with a similar catastrophe, exceeding considerably all that have preceded it—both in respect to the damage done, and the magnitude of the flood. It was thought scarcely possible, on the occasion of the previpus storm, that we should be again visited by anything so serious for at least a considerable time, and it was looked upon as a final " break-up" of the wet weather, previous to a spell of frost. So confident were the miners on this score that they had again setto to repair the damage done by the last flood, and the gorges and beaches of the Shotover River were once more populated by an industrious swarm of miners, labouring to wrench from the stubborn soil its hidden and carefully guarded treasures; but still again roared down the remorseless element, and their hopes were dashed to the ground. On Friday- a 6trong wind from the S.W. prevailed throughout the day, lashing the already flooded waters of the Lake into perfect seas, while the huge bank of black clouds in the same quarter portended heavy weather to many an anxious eye scanning the dismal-looking prospect. About 8 o'clock the wind fell, giving place to a heavy storm of rain, which poured down unceasingly till noon on Sunday. On Friday and Saturday nights, everything was enveloped in a Cimmerian blackness, and nothing could be heard but the ceaseless torrents of rain, the rushing and roaring of countless watercourses hurrying the devouring element into the swollen and restless Lake, and the distant roll and crash of falling rocks and landslips. The solitary outlet for the Lake—the Kawarau—became in a very short time thoroughly choked with the immense mass of water precipitated into it, and the Lake itself began to rise in a most determined and threatening manner. At one time the waters rose ten inches in twenty minutes, and the two 01 three jetties belonging to Queenstown were 60on on a level with the water, whereas they were formerly from five to six feet above it. At the rear of Beach and Rees streets the water speedily rose to such an extent as to lead to serious apprehensions on the part of the inhabitants, some of whom had to seek safety, for their goods and chattels at least, on higher ground. One log hut had, on Sunday, about three feet of water in it, and M'Conochie's bakery was also invaded, effectually putting a stop to all bread making, and damaging the oven. Mr. Bullen's employees were seen hard at work removing the goods from his store, which on Sunday was only partially on shore, the water having surmounted a dam, constructed at the rear, of logs, casks and bags of sand. M'Beath's Hotel was also afloat; the entrance fronting the Lake was boarded up, and the water was dashing underneath, having partially undermined it. and 1 oaring up the adjoining right-of-way like a veritable sea. Of the reef, nothing was to seen, and the boats now glide over the place where it used to be in sublime indifference to its hideous proximity. The mildness of the temperature, or the rain, or both combined, melted tlie snow on the tops of even the highest mountain peaks, which hurried down to swell the huge body of water h ing at their feet. The quantity of water which poured down to raise the Lake to such a height may be imagined when we state, for the information of those at a distance, that it is 70 miles in length by an average breadth of three miles.

But it is on the various gold workings of the district where the chief amount of damage has been done—the Shotover, the Arrow, and the minor rushes towards the upper end of the Lake. These have all suffered from the storm and floods in different degrees ; but the Shotover, which claims to be the richest field in the district, if not in the world, 6tands also at the top of the list of sufferers, both in respect of property and life. The Shotover rose some feet higher than even on the last melancholy occasion. The whole of the Long Beach was submerged, but this time the residents, being more prepared, had time to remove their goods to higher ground. To mention all the hairbreadth escapes that have taken place, would fill columns; but to relate that after the people had cleared off to the high ground, their choice was little between being drowned or dashed to pieces by the fall of rocks, will convey some idea of the horrible state of uncertainty and anxiety felt by all who were unfortunate enough to be on the Long Beach that night. At Arthur's Point the damage done can not be calculated on so large a scale as at the first flood, but the risk to life and limb was equal, if not greater, than during the first flood. Landslips and flushing of gullies continued until 4 a.m. on Sunday, since which time a constant migration of the miners to higher ground has been going on. It has been almost impossible for us, taking into consideration the frightful state of the roads, and the natural difficulties attendant

on communication so enormously increased by the floods, to give a detailed account of the damage done on the Upper Shotover district. That desideratum we will endeavor to supply in our next; for the present, we can only furnish the following meagre items that we have been able to glean, in the absence of communications from our regular correspondents.

The following are reported by Thomas Fahey as killed by a landslip near Moke Creek, about eight miles above Arthur's Point:—John Lynch, Michael Lynch, Patk. Egan, and Thomas Nolan. The body of the latter has not yet been found; those of the others were brought into Queenstown last night by a party of miners. Nolan is a native of Kiltrush, County Clare, near Galway; the Lynches are from Roscommon or Galway ; a third brother, Denis Lynch, is working at the Cardrona. Wm. Thompson reports the death of his seven mates, swept away, with the hut, into the Shotover River:—James Kelly, Patrick Mannan, Patrick Trarers, John M'Whinney, Robert Wear, Wm. M'Allen, Charles Wilkinson. None of these unfortunates have been found.

From the Sandhills, about eight miles above Maori Point, William Lloyd reports ten men killed, four injured, and two missing, from a land slip. It appears that on the occasion of the last flood a slip had taken place into a gully or watercourse running into the Shotover, damming up the water, which, swollen to a great extent by the rain, had at length become too heavy for the earth to bear, and the whole mass suddenly gave way, utterly overwhelming the huts and their unfortunate inmates below. None of the men were in bed at the time, though it was two o'clock in the morning (Sunday), they waiting up in the expectation of something happening Their names were:— Killed and missing :—John Fraser, Wm. and Samuel Wilson, Wm. Cummins, George Jack, James Allen, Joseph Mortimer, John Hornbuckle, Samuel Gretten, Peter Hunter, David Augers, and one man, name unknown. Injured:—Andrew Gray, Andrew Guthrie, David Drew, Edward Ilyld. Ten bodies have been got out; the men only injured are expected to recover. Three men are reported as hurt at the new rush at Skipper's At Shellback beach three huts have been carried away—Joyce and party's, O'Sullivan and party's, and the German's—but no lives are reported to be lost.

At the Twelve-mile rush the account of the general flooding of the whole district has received new confirmation, and though several accidents of a minor nature are stated to have taken place, no lives have been lost. On Sunday, about two a. m., a tent was buried by a landslip. One of the men had just time enough to escape before the tent was struck, and he dug his mate out afterwards, bruised and somewhat frightened, but not seriously hurt.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/LWM18630729.2.9

Bibliographic details

Lake Wakatip Mail, Lake Wakatip Mail, Volume I, Issue 26, 29 July 1863

Word Count
1,371

FLOOD AND LOSS OF LIFE. Lake Wakatip Mail, Volume I, Issue 26, 29 July 1863

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