Flood and storm recovery - March 2022

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Wednesday, 6 April 2022

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As the recent severe weather event threatened the Central Coast, Council formed an Incident Management Team in advance of the impacts being realised to ensure that we were mitigating the potential impacts to our community as much as possible.

Central Coast Council closely monitored weather predictions, roads, lakes, waterways and beaches for potential flooding and storm impacts as heavy rainfall and unpredictable weather hit the region. Council also heavily relied on the advice of expert personnel in managing these matters.

Whilst clean-up is well underway and region wide impacts have dramatically improved there are still parts of our community personally affected in their day-to-day living and navigating a longer term recovery.  

Council’s Recovery Committee continues to meet and work with Resilience NSW and other agencies at this time as we provide cohesive support where needed. 

This recent and ongoing emergency weather event has demonstrated the strength and resilience of the Central Coast people and efforts to look out for each other as ‘one’ community. The preparation work that has been put in place by communities living in the risk areas has created an even stronger and more resilient community when faced with storms and floods. 

Council wishes to thank the SES and volunteers assisting on the ground during and after the emergency event, as well as Council staff and crews who as the situation unfolded have worked hard to keep our community safe and to recover.

Please continue to watch any local weather warnings from Bureau of Meteorology any advice from NSW SES should further weather events occur.

For emergency help, call NSW SES on 132 500, or in a life-threatening emergency, call Triple Zero (000).

 

Waterways

  • Council staff and flood engineers monitored the conditions and latest data and worked with the NSW SES and Bureau of Metrology to understand anticipated peak flood levels and risks with the waterways. Council staff provided intelligence and recommendations to the NSW SES in relation to projected flood levels and impacts throughout the event, with high degrees of accuracy.
  • Crews were onsite responding to flooding and storm impacts as needed and opened Wamberal, Avoca, Terrigal and Cockrone Lagoons as they had reached the flood trigger levels.  The Entrance Channel was proactively widened in preparation for continued severe weather event, while natural scouring also occurred. 
  • Staff supported NSW State Emergency Service (SES) when they issued a flood evacuation order for residents around Tuggerah Lake and surrounding areas, as well as other low lying areas including Wyong and Yarramalong. 
  • Council crews are currently undertaking impact assessments around Tuggerah Lakes to ascertain how much debris including wrack has been washed up.

 

Beaches

  • All 15 patrolled Central Coast beaches and The Grant McBride baths remained closed throughout the major storm event for a 12 day period, with regular water quality testing being undertaken at all sites. 
  • All beach sites reopened from Monday 14 March following improved water quality results. While the patrol flags and beach locations have reopened Central Coast beaches and our water ways will continue to have large debris wash ashore for some weeks and Council crews will continue to monitor and collect debris. 
  • Since commencing works on 12 March, Council collected and removed 269 tonnes of debris that continued to wash ashore at Umina and Ocean Beach as a result of the floodwaters still coming down from the upper Hawkesbury River. Debris is still continuing to flow into Tuggerah Lakes and out through The Entrance Channel, however foreshore areas around the Lake remain too water logged to get the machinery in to collect debris without causing damage.  This clean-up will commence when conditions are suitable.Water clarity at our beaches will continue to be impacted by the runout of Hawksbury river and & Tuggerah Lakes system for some weeks.
  • The Grant McBride baths site has also reopened after Council crews cleaned all pools earlier in week.
  • Water clarity at our beaches will continue to be impacted by the runout of Hawksbury river and & Tuggerah Lakes system for some weeks. 
  • The standard advice following a storm event is to avoid swimming in our ocean beaches for at least 24 hours and for three days at our estuarine locations.   

 

Roads

  • During this weather event, Council’s Emergency Incident Committee liaised with Transport NSW to collectively address impacts on roads. Road signs and barriers were placed to advise residents and motorists where storm impacts occurred and to block access as necessary.
  • Council crews monitored the region’s 2,200km road network and responded urgently to fix potholes, remove any fallen trees from roads and inspect and repair any other damage as quickly as possible following the prolonged period of heavy rain.  
  • Throughout this severe weather event, Council’s road crews attended over 120 after-hour callouts, closed more than 80 roads across the Coast, attended to over 23 landslips, and has repaired over 16,000 potholes. 
  • Water entering and weakening the underlying road pavement and the added stress of traffic is the main cause of potholes, which is why we see more potholes after periods of heavy rain.
  • There has been over 23 landslips across the coast that affected roads. All have been made safe however there are two sites on Wisemans Ferry Road where part of the road remains impacted. Specialist engineers will be required to investigate all landslip sites to determine appropriate actions to undertake more permanent repair works which will take some time to complete. During this time Council staff will continue to monitor sites in order to keep the area as safe as possible.
  • Wisemans Ferry Rd is still impacted with access limited to emergency vehicles and local residents only due to dangerous conditions. The roads remain badly damaged and non-locals are asked to please stay away from the area at this time.
  • Crews continue to undertake repairs and attend to customer requests according to priority, and we encourage the community to report any road defects these to Council.  Easily lodge requests and reports to Council on our online customer portal (centralcoast.nsw.gov.au via the ‘Report an issue’ page).

 

Water and sewer services

  • Our water and sewer network has returned to normal operation, including our Vacuum Sewerage Systems (located at Davistown, St Huberts Island, West Gosford (Racecourse Road), Rocky Point, Tacoma and Tacoma South) which required flood waters to subside to begin repair work at some of these locations.
  • Terrigal Lagoon, Wamberal Lagoon, Avoca Lagoon, Cochran Lagoon, Lake Macquarie near Koowong Road at Gwandalan, Tuggerah Lake at The Entrance (south of the bridge), Avoca Beach near the SLSC and the outlet of Salt Water Creek were all impacted by sewer overflows and storm water runoff. Pollution signs have been removed from some locations that have returned good water quality results but signs remain in place at locations where water quality has not yet returned to an acceptable level. Council strongly advises against swimming at locations where pollution signs remain in place. Water quality levels can be viewed on the Beachwatch website.
  • If anyone experiences a sewer system disruption, please call Council immediately on 1300 463 954.
  • For all current water service interruptions please go to the Water outages page of our website.
  • For all current dam water levels please go to the Love Water website.

 

Waste services and clean up

1,700 tonnes of storm clean-up waste has been collected by Council and the community and delivered to Council’s waste management facilities. 

Council’s waste management facilities remained open and weekly kerbside collections are continuing as normal with minor delays to bulk kerbside collection due to high demand and severe weather impacts. Waste facilities charges were reduced for flood affected waste. Additional waste collection resources have been allocated to assist emergency services at Spencer, Gunderman and surrounding communities.

  • Kerbside (normal weekly collections) - Weekly kerbside bin collections are continuing as normal, however some minor delays may be experienced due to high demands. For properties on sections of road currently closed to vehicles, kerbside services will resume as soon as the roads re-open. Keep your bins on the kerbside (if safe to do so) until they are collected. 
  • Flood affected household waste material -  Larger volumes of bulky household waste can be booked as a bulk kerbside collection through 1Coast (as part of your annual bulk kerbside collection services).  A discounted rate for the disposal of flood affected household waste from residential properties is currently available at both the Buttonderry and Woy Woy Waste Management Facility.  Residents are requested to provide details of the origin address to receive discounted rate of $208.19 per tonne at our Waste Management Facilities at Buttonderry and Woy Woy.  For disposal of sea wrack, sea grass or vegetation only waste - normal organic waste rate is applicable of $160.00 per tonne.
  • Seagrass and vegetation - Seagrass and smaller items of vegetation debris from lake and river flooding should be placed into green waste bins. Be careful not to overfill or compact your bin as they have an 80kg weight limit. Larger volumes of vegetation can be booked as a bulk kerbside collection through 1Coast (as part of your annual bulk kerbside collection services). Council cannot collect loose leaf seagrass through bulk kerbside, so please ensure larger quantities are contained (for example, in a cardboard box) for collection. For more information on how to prepare seagrass and loose vegetation for bulk kerbside collection, head to 1Coast website here.  Sea wrack, sea grass or vegetation only waste can also be disposed of at Council's waste facilities at Woy Woy and Buttonderry (normal organic waste rate is applicable of $160.00 per tonne).
  • For sandbag disposal, if possible, split the bags to remove sand and place in your garden where it won’t wash away. Place empty bags in the red lid garbage bin.

Please note Council is prioritising bulk kerbside collections for flood affected regions which is causing up to a two-week delay on standard bulk kerbside collections. Council thanks the community for their patience during this clean up event.

 

Support and recovery assistance

  • As we moved into a recovery phase, A Recovery Committee was established and Council worked alongside Resilience NSW to provide information and assistance for the community.   
  • Pop-up Recovery Hubs were set up from 14 March at Spencer Community Hall, Diggers at The Entrance or the Berkeley Community Centre, with Resilience NSW to ensure residents have access to information and support services to aid recovery following the recent severe weather event.
  • Council alongside NSW SES and other relevant services is providing ongoing support for Spencer, Gunderman and surrounding communities as these residents continue to be impacted by access limitations due to the ongoing closure of Wisemans Ferry Rd to public access. With landslips, river embankment slips and dangerous road conditions, Wisemans Ferry Rd remains accessible for Emergency Vehicles and local residents only.  
  • This latest weather event has demonstrated the efforts that these communities have put in to ensure suitable emergency plans are in place, as individuals and jointly with neighbours in their local community – which has strengthened their resilience
  • Your mental health matters - The NSW Government’s Head to Health has been designed to provide mental health support to those in need during these challenging times. Call 1800 595 131 during business hours or go online to mindhealth.org.au/flood-support. If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, sad or need help during any this emergency and recovery phase, there are also many local health and wellbeing services available. Find out where to get help here. 

Disaster Relief Grant

The NSW Government announced 7 March 2022 that the Central Coast has been included in the Natural Disaster Declaration which will allow those affected in our community to be eligible for flood assistance. The Disaster Relief Grant is administered by Resilience NSW. For more information, go to nsw.gov.au and search ‘disaster recovery’ or call 1800 018 444.

Disaster affected people can be granted immediate assistance if they do not have the financial resources to meet their immediate needs. Financial assistance can be sourced from the Evacuation Centre who will assess and also refer to appropriate agencies such as Samaritans for support and material aid and Chaplaincy services.

Flood Disaster Recovery Small Business Grants

NSW small businesses and not-for-profits (NFP) affected by the severe weather and floods in February and March 2022 can now apply for up to $50,000 in NSW Government support. Payments can go towards the cost of safety inspections, building repairs, cleaning equipment, materials needed to resume trade, disposing of debris and spoiled stock, or leasing temporary space. Businesses can apply via the Service NSW website or by calling a Service NSW Business Concierge on 13 77 88.

Other community driven support

•    The Berkeley Centre (3 Heather Ave, Glenning Valley) is providing food hampers, frozen meals, financial counselling and referrals for Berkeley Vale, Chittaway Bay and Chittaway Point residents.   Contact Gil on 0490 538 494.
•    The Entrance Neighbourhood Centre (Corner of Oakland Street and Battley Street) is providing food vouchers, referral for foodbanks. Contact Ros on 4332 4545.

 

Health and safety during clean up

Avoid unnecessary risks during clean up:

  • Do not enter a damaged building or structure, unless deemed safe to do so by authorities
  • Take great care around electricity – follow the SES Electricity Safety Tips
  • Be alert to snakes, spiders, rats and other wildlife that may have taken 
  • If removing or moving waste, remember to practise basic hygiene. Use appropriate personal protective equipment, including dust mask, gloves, covered shoes or boots and full-length clothing to cover your arms and legs
  • All cuts and abrasions should be cleaned, treated with antiseptic and covered immediately. If you have a deep cut or wound, if a wound has had contact with floodwaters or if a wound develops redness, swelling or discharge, seek immediate medical attention
  • Avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Use an insect repellent on exposed skin areas and reapply every couple of hours. Cover up as much as possible with loose-fitting and light-coloured clothing. Should you or any of your family have severe diarrhoea or vomiting, please seek immediate medical assistance. If you have these symptoms, you’ll need extra fluids to replace what you lose. The best fluids to take are those that contain a mixture of special salts (electrolytes) and sugars, (e.g. Gastrolyte) which can be purchased from local pharmacies.

Managing asbestos in emergencies and disasters and during clean up

Be aware and stay safe around asbestos after emergencies and disasters.  Cleaning up after storms, bushfires, flood, buildings fires and other incidents can involve asbestos but you can manage this safely.

There is helpful information to answer all your questions so you can stay safe and know what to do if you come across asbestos, and want to know how to remove or dispose of it.

NSW Government: Managing asbestos in emergencies and disasters

EPA:  Asbestos in flood-affected areas

The Asbestos Awareness website also has information on
•    how to identify products containing asbestos
•    locating where it might be in and around your home and property,
•    a safety checklist, as well as how to manage asbestos in your home - visit asbestosawareness.com.au 

Asbestos can be disposed of at our Buttonderry and Woy Woy Waste Management Facilities. For more information on asbestos disposal, visit our Waste Facilities page.

Health and Safety links 

NSW Health Fact Sheet - Staying healthy during and after floods.

Beyond Blue - Looking After Yourself - Emotional Responses After a Disaster. 

For further information on maintaining health during and after floods and storms, go to NSW Health’s website or call 1800 health direct or 1800 022 222.

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This recent and ongoing emergency weather event has demonstrated the strength and resilience of the Central Coast people and efforts to look out for each other as ‘one’ community.

Council wishes to thank the SES and volunteers assisting on the ground, as well as Council staff and crews who as the situation unfolded, have worked hard to keep our community safe.

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Last updated : Wed 27 Apr 2022