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Hundreds of Orford residents stuck as heavy rain washes away bridge on Tasmania's east coast

ABC NEWS logo ABC NEWS 8/10/2020 By Ada Lester and Alexandra Alvaro
a tree next to a body of water: The collapsed bridge "washed away" near Orford. (ABC News: Alexandra Alvaro) © Provided by ABC NEWS The collapsed bridge "washed away" near Orford. (ABC News: Alexandra Alvaro)

A family of four are among the hundreds of people stranded on Tasmania's east coast after a road bridge collapsed in heavy rainfall.

The Orford Rivulet bridge at Rheban Road washed away yesterday afternoon, cutting off around 400 shacks and homes to the town centre and the rest of the state.

One Hobart family was hoping for a relaxing time away during the school holidays and had planned on returning home this morning.

Yoga instructor Trish May said she had had to reschedule her classes for today, but remained positive about the situation.

"We're just trying to work out our meals and supplies now that we're here," she said.

"We've got some wine and nibbles so we should be OK."

She said the kids were hoping to get an extra day of school holidays.

"Now they're going, 'Oh maybe we'll get Monday off school'," Ms May said.

"But we'll push them across on a kayak before that happens."

The bridge was under construction when heavy rain fell across Tasmania's east coast yesterday.

Since 9:00am yesterday, the area has received more than 50 millimetres of rain.

Glamorgan-Spring Bay Council General Manager Greg Ingham said it was unfortunate they had experienced this weather in the midst of constructing the bridge, turning the creek into a "raging river".

"You could basically say the bridge has washed away," he said.

"Certainly, it is totally inaccessible — you wouldn't be able to get any vehicle through there."

Mayor Robert Young told ABC Radio Hobart that a replacement bridge was expected to be installed by Saturday, but locals are utilising the still-standing pedestrian bridge in the meantime.

"The locals have organised a shuttle service of their own volition," he said.

"People have been going back and forth picking up those coming from town and taking them to the beachside areas and the southern part of the municipality".

Mr Young felt the community was banding together, with one local farmer even offering access over his paddocks should the need arise.

Construction worker Benjamin Phillips said his team had started rebuilding the bridge this morning despite the rain forecast.

"We're meant to get a bit more rain again this afternoon but hopefully it's not going to be too much," he said.

Video: Emergency bushfire warning issued for north-east Tasmania (Sky News Australia)


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