Bendethera flood: Mum thanks rescuers

Illawarra couple Dimity and Cody. Picture: Facebook

Illawarra couple Dimity and Cody. Picture: Facebook

The Albion Park mother of a camper stranded on the South Coast has described the ordeal of not knowing his fate and wants him home with the disabled sister who loves him.

Cody Hutchison, 19, is stranded at Bendethera, behind the flooded Deua River, with five other Albion Park former schoolmates, including his girlfriend and fellow University of Wollongong student, Dimity Quinlan-Merz.

Cody Hutchison, 19, and sister Charnai, 23, of Albion Park.

Cody Hutchison, 19, and sister Charnai, 23, of Albion Park.

They were among 41 campers caught when the mountains west of Moruya copped torrential rain this week, forcing emergency crews to fly supplies in via helicopter on Thursday.

“Daniel rang to say he had a message from Cody and they were cold and wet and wanted to come home, but were safe.”

Cody’s mother Lee Hutchison raised the alarm with State Emergency Services on Tuesday when he did not make contact, as planned, and she heard of serious flooding in the Deua Valley and Bendethera area.

Lee Hutchison, of Albion Park, was relieved to know her son, Cody, 19 is safe and well.

Lee Hutchison, of Albion Park, was relieved to know her son, Cody, 19 is safe and well.

“I am a single mum and have a daughter with a disability and Cody is my backbone,” Ms Hutchison said.

“It has really hit home, that if anything happened to him … Charnai, 23, has Down Syndrome, but she totally knows he is not here.”

Ms Hutchison said she last spoke to Cody on New Year’s Eve when he rang from Moruya and said they were heading to the campsite the following day.

“He said he would ring me on the fifth.

”We heard there was flooding west of Moruya and I started to get concerned.

“He had shown me pictures and I knew they were on the river.”

Her link to Cody since has been via news reports and caring SES crew members in Moruya who have kept her up to date with the rescue effort.

“Daniel has rung me back three times and Grant has been great,” she said of the SES workers. 

Rescue crews finally made radio contact with one camper on Wednesday afternoon, but cloud cover prevented a helicopter crew from flying over the site or landing until Thursday.

Ms Hutchison said her anxiety did not lower until then.

“Daniel rang to say he had a message from Cody and they were cold and wet and wanted to come home, but were safe.”

“As a parent, not having that communication and not knowing” was nerve wracking.

She said the exercise science student was considering volunteering with the Rural Fire Service.

“He likes to give back,” she said.

He can start by giving back the camping gear she and Dimity gave him for Christmas.

“He is never going camping again,” Ms Hutchison said.

“He can come home and sell his tent. Either that, or take his mother with him.”

Crews are waiting for the river to drop so campers can leave in their own vehicles.

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