Tough man pays tribute to rescuers in Far North floods
HE'S your typical, tough man of the land, but Richard Naylor was choking back tears yesterday as he paid tribute to rescuers who plucked he and wife Marie from their flooding Far North home.
Two days late for a hospital check-up for an ongoing heart problem, there was little the 60-year-old and Marie could do as floodwaters surrounded their house outside Laura, cutting them off completely.
For 10 days they watched the water inch closer until late on Wednesday when Richard's health worsened, the water rose, and they knew they had to get out.
"We had nowhere to go, we're in an A-frame house, if the water came up and there was no way to leave because we were on an island, there's only one way to go and that's drown. It's pretty scary," he said, speaking from his hospital bed in Cairns.
"Yesterday was incredible, five metres in a few minutes. It's emotional you know.
"It was stress that was going to kill me, I was that worried."
The couple managed the Laura caravan park for years, but moved out to work on a property about 40km west of the town last April, having no idea what the wet season would bring, virtually confining them to the house for the last fortnight.
"Most of the time we read, I go for walks," Marie said.
Richard added: "(I did) a fair bit of praying lately."
The Emergency Management Queensland helicopter flew from Cairns, landing on an area of grass "the size of a tennis court" to pick them up about 6pm.
"He came straight out of the sky, through the trees, landed on the only patch of grass that wasn't water," Richard said.
"We had to wade through water to get to the aircraft and as soon as we left the ground, we never saw another thing, it was just white.
"He's an incredible pilot."
Pilot Spida Ryder said the area was a virtual ocean as they landed. They travelled back to Cairns Base Hospital through thick blankets of cloud.
"We had a bit of trouble getting down out of the clouds because it was pretty extensive," he said.
"It was a bit of a miserable trip each way, but it was nice to get them out. They were very stressed.
"I think they thought they were going to be swept away soon."
Richard will undergo an angiogram today and continue to be monitored in hospital.
"All I've got to do now is try and get Marie home," he said. "I couldn't have survived without her."
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Brought to tears: Richard Naylor recounts his rescue from near Laura. Picture: BRENDAN FRANCIS