Flood hero rewarded: 12 people rescued from waters

COURAGE: Troy Jorgensen rescued 12 people from rising floodwaters during the June 2007 storm that battered the region. Picture: Jamieson Murphy ORDEAL: Floodwaters trapped many motorists inside their vehicles during the storm in 2007. Picture: Peter Stoop

A LAKE Macquarie man will be presented with an Australian Bravery Medal for his heroic actions during the Pasha Bulker storm.

Troy Jorgensen rescued 12 people from rising floodwaters in Kotara on Friday, June 8, 2007.

The Eleebana resident was driving his wife, Tasha, and friend Jarrad Townley when his car stalled as they tried to cross a flooded road.

After pushing the vehicle clear, they realised the water was flowing rapidly at waist height over the road.

“We were one of the first cars to go through the floodwater, but at that stage the water wouldn’t have even been two feet deep,” Mr Jorgensen said.

“Within an hour or two the water had tripled in depth.”

As darkness fell, Mr Jorgensen attempted to divert oncoming traffic.

“The storm caused a black-out, so people were coming over the hill not realising they were about to drive straight into the floodwater,” he said.

Despite his efforts several vehicles drove into the water and became submerged.

The rising waters trapped people in their cars because the water pressure prevented them from opening the car doors.

“The water was at some stages up to the windows of their cars,” Mr Jorgensen said.

He and Mr Townley (who will also receive an award) entered the water multiple times, prised open car doors, and helped the trapped people to the safety of a nearby house.

Mr Jorgensen said each rescue had a different challenge.

There was the girl with her leg in a cast.

And the woman screaming for help with her young son and daughter restrained inside their vehicle.

Mr Jorgensen and Mr Townley unbuckled the boy and pulled him through the window.

Mr Jorgensen then climbed through a slightly open window into the cabin and unbuckled the girl and carried her to safety.

In another rescue, Mr Jorgensen got a woman out of her car seconds before it drifted completely underwater.

The string of rescues happened over three hours. In that time several cars were inundated and washed away in the floodwaters.

One of Mr Jorgensen’s most vivid memories of the event was how cold his feet became.

“They were absolutely freezing. For days my feet ached from the cold water,” he said.

Despite the obvious danger, Mr Jorgensen said he wouldn’t hesitate to do it all again.

“I found that I couldn’t just walk away from the situation – I just did it because I saw people in trouble,” he said.

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