Hull KR boss Tony Smith reveals impact on family and friends of devastating floods

Hull KR boss Tony Smith reveals impact on family and friends of devastating floods

TONY Smith admits he has had plenty more than bad boy players on his plate at Hull KR.

Making sure his family is OK as the area he spent his childhood was devastated by flooding TWICE was top of his list.

And his big mate, his best man, came just INCHES from having the torrent rip through his property.

Some 20 people were killed and people left stranded on rooves in what was described as a ‘once in 500 years event’ that saw Lismore, Casino and Grafton in New South Wales, Australia, decimated.

Then that area flooded again weeks later.

Smith explained: “It’s really tragic. I grew up on a dairy farm in that area and we had floods but I’ve never seen anything like this.

“I’m devastated for the people who’ve been affected as I remember being affected when I was young, how it causes devastation and the effects to livelihoods are very traumatic.

“I saw the photos of what happened and immediately checked. My family all lives in the Clarence River area and they kept me up to date on how high the water got.

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“They sent me photos of towns I lived in and first played rugby in – the whole city of Lismore was virtually underwater. It’s had a huge effect on some of my best mates and people I grew up with.

“My best man, Andrew Bartlett, lives right on the Richmond River in Casino and it came within inches of coming through his house. He was looking down the barrel.

“I’ve been to his house many times and it’s pretty scary when your local river’s almost running through your back yard – we’re not talking about water drifting in, we’re talking about raging torrents with logs in it!”

Smith stood down Brad Takairangi from all games until he is expected to be sentenced for drink driving and dangerous driving charges today.

It was meant to happen on March 31 but was delayed as the Judge dealing with the case at Hull Crown Court had Covid-19.

Of more pressing importance, though, has been making sure the area he grew up in can recover as best it can.

He added: “The recovery of the area and devastation it causes to properties and land is huge. When you’ve been a farmer, you understand it.

“Crops, animals and wildlife that have been lost – people with properties and land are left with financial discomfort for many years. The area is very much a rural farming area.

“Casino, where I went to school, was the beef capital of the southern hemisphere at one stage. A lot of industries are affected there.

“Being here in Hull, all I can do really is raise awareness and let people know there’s those out there who care about them.”

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