His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), Governor of New South Wales and Mrs Hurley flew into Stroud on Saturday morning to see first-hand the devastation caused by the April storm.
Accompanying them was retired Brigadier Darren Naumann who has been appointed to the role of regional recovery coordinator for the Hunter and Central Coast floods.
Stroud Showground and neighbouring houses either side of Mill creek bore the brunt of the storm with a wall of water pushing its way down the normally placid Mill Creek and Mill Brook.
Homeowners Graeme and Robyn Arkinstall and their three foster children were forced to the verandah roof of their 1860s homestead which was filled to chest height with muddy water and shifted off its foundations.
While the couple were on the roof for nearly three hours waiting to be rescued, they locked their dog in a cupboard above their bed to keep her safe.
Stroud resident Michael Maytom rescued a number of people at Stroud Showground including Paul and Colleen O’Bryan who met the governor and Mrs Hurley and told them of their ordeal.
Great Lakes councillor Karen Hutchinson said the couple also met Dean Hancock from Essential Energy who, along with local police officers, also helped rescue people.
“They were such a very genuine couple who took the time to listen to everyone they met,” Cr Hutchinson said.
“After they visited the Arkinstall’s home they went to Christmas in July Fair and mingled with the people.
“Mrs Hurley actually won the rubber chook throwing competition and I think they enjoyed their time in Stroud.”
With numerous buildings damaged beyond repair and others moved from their foundations, there is more than $900,000 worth of damage at Stroud Showground.
Great Lakes Council mayor Cr Jan McWilliams said the state government changed the laws 12 months ago and only $120,000 will be forthcoming for repairs.
“All recreational areas have been taken out of disaster funding,” she said.
“I don’t know what is going to happen as council does not have the money to do the repairs and rebuilding at the ground.
“The showground is the hub of the town and is used for everything including the show, rodeo, pony club, rugby league, soccer and cricket.
“We are hoping the disaster people will see that and funding will be forthcoming.”
This year’s September rodeo has already been cancelled and next year’s show is also in doubt.