Member for Morwell, Russell Northe has raised in Parliament this week ongoing concerns from the local community with respect to the impact of the June 2021 floods.
Major flooding of the Traralgon Creek caused enormous emotional and financial distress to local residents, community groups, sporting clubs and businesses.
Mr Northe indicated that three major issues still remain unresolved including not having an adequate local emergency warning system; lack of recovery funding to enable clubs and community organisations at the Traralgon Recreation Reserve to rebuild or relocate, and introducing appropriate flood mitigation measures to better protect local homes and assets in the event of future flooding.
“Unfortunately, the emergency warning system that was in place during the June 2021 floods failed to warn residents of dangers associated with peak flooding with evacuation warnings coming well after the Traralgon Creek floodwaters had already peaked” Mr Northe commenced.
“This was an unacceptable situation with many residents including the vulnerable and elderly being placed in a dangerous and precarious situation. An after-action review was committed to by the relevant emergency services departments and agencies; however we are yet to receive any information on the conclusion or recommendations associated with the review” Mr Northe said.
“I understand the review may be completed next month and it’s the expectation that there are recommendations and findings that allow for a local warning system to be in place and to which local residents can have faith and confidence in. Many residents have told me that the previous local warning system that was enacted when flooding occurred worked very effectively but this was lost when the system became a State warning system” Mr Northe said.
Mr Northe said he had written to the Treasurer and other State Government Ministers to seek funding in the upcoming budget to support the ‘Traralgon Flood Recovery’ project. Mr Northe said there were two aspects to the ‘Traralgon Flood Recovery Project’ with the first being the construction of a Multi-Use flood proof pavilion at the Traralgon Recreation Reserve inclusive of the Traralgon Football Netball Club, Ex Students Cricket Club and the Traralgon Amateur Boxing Club. The second aspect was the development of a Community Hub and Outdoor Event Space at Glenview Park in McNairn Road, Traralgon. Organisation that would be relocated to this precinct include Gippsland Ranges Roller Derby, Traralgon Mens Shed, Model Makers Club, Traralgon and District Agricultural Society, Traralgon Bridge Club and the Traralgon Pigeon Club.
“Approximately $10 million is required to deliver on this project with Council seeking $7.5 million in State Government funding which is only a relatively small investment in the totality of the State Budget but a vital one from a community and social perspective as the activities and pursuits of many have been disrupted since the floods of last year” Mr Northe continued.
“The reality is many groups are currently without a home base or have limited facilities and assets and they need the support of the State Government at this crucial time” Mr Northe said.
Mr Northe also said that the community was seeking detail on what medium to longer term flood mitigation measures could be initiated to minimise flooding of the Traralgon Creek in the township of Traralgon into the future.
“I’m not confident the after-action review will explore actual flood mitigation options but the Government in my opinion must lead the conversation and investigate what is possible in this space” Mr Northe said.
“To be flooded once is just an awful experience but to be flooded multiple times is just heart-breaking and unfortunately this what many local residents have encountered over the years. There has been speculation that the Traralgon Bypass might offer some technical and engineering opportunities to undertake some significant flood mitigation works into the future” Mr Northe continued.
“If this is the case this should be put on the table now along with other possibilities. We have to give local residents, businesses, groups, organisations and clubs confidence and hope that options are will be explored to minimise flooding events in the township of Traralgon into the future” Mr Northe concluded.