Police Commander Maurice Burke was one of many people who responded instantly to Katherine’s worst flood on record in 1998.
Together with Group Captain Crowhurst and Group Captain Ward of the ADF, Commander Burke was confronted with an emergency which virtually wiped out three quarters of the town in two days.
There are early plans to mark the 20th anniversary of Katherine’s worst disaster next year.
From January 26 to 29 in 1998, what has been described as the worst flooding on record occurred in and around Katherine.
The flooding was caused by torrential rain from the remains of Cyclone Les in the headwaters of the Katherine, Roper, Adelaide, Mary, Wildman and South Alligator rivers as the system moved slowly west.
The Katherine River peaked at 20.4 metres on January 27, more than a metre higher than the previous worst recorded flood in 1957.
It was estimated enough water flowed under the bridge to fill Sydney harbor in 12 hours.
Other “significant” flooding events have occurred in Katherine in 1931, 1940, 1974 and 2006.
In the shocking 1998 flood, between 2000 and 3000 of the town's population of 11,000 were estimated to have been evacuated to centres on higher ground.
The CBD was flooded by one to two metres of water for most of January 27 and 28.
The Katherine flood was declared a national disaster.
Many people left Katherine after the flood and never returned because of what they had suffered and lost.