Jamberoo Flood Hero

Jamberoo tradie Mitchell (Mitch) Rosser is being hailed as a hero after rescuing a man from the flash floods which occurred during the torrential downpours in the early hours of Saturday 6 April. But he doesn’t want this story to be about him. He wants to make sure it never happens again.

On inspection, it’s very hard to see how the man survived at all. In the pitch dark, the flood water running over the paddocks picked up his car and smashed it through an iron gate on Jamberoo Road, just out of town near Turpentine Creek. 

All the electronics in the car had died. However, by some miracle, the power window wound down, and he managed to get out of the car as it was being swept into the creek. The car was later found badly damaged a good kilometre further down Turpentine Creek, ending near the 12th hole of the Jamberoo Golf Course. 

The location where the incident began is approximately 50 metres from the waterway. Driving in the dark, there is no reason to assume that there would be floodwater in that location. 

Local plumber, Mitch, was out filming the water running through his garage and feeling concerned about protecting his young family when he heard a cry for help.

“It was terrifying. The whole yard was under water,” he recalls. 

“I said to the missus, oh yeah, the front lawn is flooded again. Our gate was gone, a road sign ripped out. It was pissing down. There’s always water when there’s 100mm of rain, but I have never seen anything like this.  

“I was trying to get all the tools off the floor in my shed, and I heard him screaming out for help. I just heard him yelling, help, help, help. We rang 000, but there was no way they could get there.” 

Mitch’s house backs onto Turpentine Creek. They could hear the man, but they couldn’t see him in the torrential rain and darkness.

“I yelled to my wife, get me a torch. I could hear him screaming for help. I ran along the back fence, trying to find his voice. I was yelling, where are you? He shouted back, I am over here, help me, the water is rising.”

Mitch says the only reason he saw him was because he had a reflective strip on his work shirt. 

“He just had one arm hanging on to a branch, and water was up to his chest. He was grabbing stuff, and it was belting down. I told him, hold on. He was in the bushes. Í could see where he was but the water was smashing through. I couldn’t reach him.

“I ran to my shed, looking for a power cord, something, anything he could hold on to. I got the pole for the pool scoop.I tried to pull him out through the scrub. Eventually we locked arms, and managed to get him out.

“He was shaken, rattled, and then hugged me. You saved my life, he said. I said, we need to get you inside. The neighbour’s a paramedic.”

The Bugle understands the man does not wish to be identified.

Mitch himself is shaken up by the event.   

“If we hadn’t heard him, he was gone. He’s the luckiest man alive. It gives me chills even to think about it. I just keep hearing him screaming.” 

And there is one thing Mitch is certain of, and that is this man is very lucky to have survived. The power had gone in the car, but for some reason the power window wound down. His two year old son is an early riser, so for that reason the family were all awake. 

But if Mitch hadn’t gone out into the backyard at that exact time, they would never have heard him yelling for help. And if he hadn’t been wearing a high-viz shirt, they would never have been able to locate him. 

One thing is for sure, and that is Mitch never wants to see it happen again. 

“Every local knows that Turpentine Creek floods, but there is no signage, nothing. And this man was not a local. That is what I hope will come out of this story, to stop it happening again.

“An hour later, people were out driving, and two of us were out with flashlights telling people not to drive through. Screaming, stop stop stop!” 

Local member Gareth Ward said he would be asking Council to install a flood metre at the site and looking at what other warning signage is required to ensure people are aware of the dangers of this section of road. 

“Based on the experience of locals and feedback I have received, we don’t want this to happen again. I want to consult with Council traffic engineers on what they believe is necessary, and raise the feedback from the community. 

“I want to commend Mitch for his heroism, and I believe this bravery should be officially recognised. If it wasn’t for Mitch’s quick thinking and heroism, the man would be dead.”

Contacted for comment Kiama Council issued the following statement: Kiama residents with concerns about safety and other signage on our local roads to lodge a Customer Request for Maintenance (CRM). These CRM’s regarding road safety are provided to our Manager Design, and then to Council’s Traffic Committee.”

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