No honeymoon for airlifted bride as she joins cleanup

Newlyweds Wayne and Kate Bell in front of the flooded bridge in New South Wales that blocked Mrs Bell's way to her wedding venue on Saturday. She eventually arrived at the venue in a helicopter sent by a local TV station.
Newlyweds Wayne and Kate Bell in front of the flooded bridge in New South Wales that blocked Mrs Bell's way to her wedding venue on Saturday. She eventually arrived at the venue in a helicopter sent by a local TV station.PHOTO: REUTERS

A bride who was airlifted to her wedding after being stranded by flood waters in Australia last Saturday has revealed that she is not on a honeymoon, but is instead undertaking the same dreary activity as her fellow residents in rain-hit areas - cleaning up.

Mrs Kate Bell, formerly Fotheringham, had arrived at her wedding in the town of Wingham north of Sydney in a helicopter organised by a local television station in an ordeal that made global news. But she revealed yesterday that she was now wearing gumboots and helping to clean the house of her godmother, who was evacuated.

"We're still in gumboots, I had them on under my wedding dress and we've been wearing them for about six days straight, so we're spending our honeymoon covered in mud," she told The Central Western Daily, the local newspaper.

Mrs Bell said her new husband is in the middle of university studies and that the couple had already planned to have a delayed honeymoon. "I could've handled a bit of rain or some mud, but a once-in-a-generation flood just wasn't cool," she said.

"We'll certainly be having a good holiday once this is all over."

As the sun finally came out yesterday across parts of hard-hit New South Wales state after days of torrential rain, the flooding has continued to take a toll across the country's east coast, with thousands evacuated and some rivers still rising.

Some evacuated residents returned to waterlogged houses to inspect the damage. Emergency services workers were joined by builders and forklift drivers to help residents clear muddy slime and debris from their houses.

Ms Sharon Jones, a resident of Port Macquarie, about 400km north of Sydney, said the waters had been "crazy".

"That's my life out there on the lawn," she told The Daily Telegraph. "It's just memories that I've lost, I can make new ones now."

The unusual downpours have been attributed to the La Nina weather pattern and a wetter-than-average summer, as well as the possible influence of climate change, which is causing more extreme and frequent weather-related disasters.

The floods are believed to have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to homes, businesses and farmland.

Flood warnings and evacuation orders remained in place yesterday in parts of Sydney and the northern coast. Trees, cars, fridges and other household items have reportedly been turning up on beaches or washing out to sea.

Across Sydney, roads remained blocked by stagnant puddles, and thousands of households are believed to have suffered damage.

In Centennial Park, just outside the central business district, a football field was turned into a makeshift lake.

Children - joined by occasional ducks - were able to swim instead of playing cricket or football.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2021, with the headline 'No honeymoon for airlifted bride as she joins cleanup'. Subscribe