Flood recovery

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In March 2021, Port Macquarie-Hastings LGA was impacted by a natural disaster described as being a 1-in-100-year flood event. This caused widespread damage across the LGA.

The floods impacted personal lives and public spaces to an extent we haven’t seen before. The region’s homes, roads, bridges and recreational spaces were severely damaged, and in some cases, washed away. 

The emotional and financial ramifications of this natural disaster are still being felt 12 months on. We recognise just how difficult it has been for our residents to deal with during the middle of a global pandemic, which came so soon after the bushfires of 2019.

We are making every effort to return our region back to its pre-flood state, but it will take some time - about two more years - to get there.

The damage bill from our initial emergency relief works was in excess of $13.56 million, with a further $72 million estimated for the longer term repairs. However, a second weather event in November 2021 and another in February 2022 have pushed that figure higher. 

Our recovery journey

We’ve completed works on 627 of the 1000+ impacted locations, at a cost of more than $23 million. We are working closely with our funding authorities, including Resilience NSW as the lead agency, Transport for NSW, Public Works Advisory, Environmental Protection Authority, Crown Lands, the Office of Local Government, State and Federal Departments and insurers to approve the remaining works for repair.

The map below highlights all of the eligible locations for repair under the Natural Disaster Guidelines across our region.  

Major repairs

Stoney Creek Bridge

Stoney Creek Bridge was significantly damaged and eventually washed out as water levels rose through the creek system.

Reinstating safe access was one of the key priorities in our emergency response. As a critical connection for the Wauchope and Pembrooke communities, planning for the installation of a temporary bridge began immediately. 

Designs were quickly developed, and preparation works were completed in time for the delivery of the temporary bridge.

The installation was completed in May 2021 and the Bridge was reopened.

We're now working with Transport for NSW to secure funding for a permanent replacement of the bridge. The temporary structure will be in place to provide access until these future works commence.

Take a look at the photos below to see the damages and follow the repair process.

Comboyne Road

Several tonnes of soil slipped on Comboyne mountain, blocking vehicle access on Comboyne Road between Hartys Creek and Stennetts Road.

By April 2021, geotechnical assessments confirmed the possibility of safely re-opening the road. Works commenced to restore this key route for the Comboyne community.

After a 7-week effort to clear debris and create a safe path, Comboyne Road was re-opened in early May 2021, with four single lane closures and traffic control safely guiding road users through the changed conditions.

While plans were underway for the reconstruction of some of the major slips along Comboyne Road, a following flood event occurred in November of 2021. Temporary access was again reinstated following emergency repairs, while the long-term plans and necessary approvals continue to progress.

We have engaged Public Works Advisory (PWA) to manage the repairs as a matter of urgency, and are working closely with Transport for NSW to streamline the funding process to progress these works as quickly as possible.

Take a look at the photos below to see the extent of damages.

Ennis Road

Floodwater severely damaged nearly 1km of the embankment along Ennis Road. With sections of road washed away, the road was closed.

Our Operations crews spent 3 weeks on immediate repairs. This included clearing debris, and restoring both the embankment and the road surface to make the road safe for residents.

Ennis Road was re-opened in August 2021. We're planning to realign the road further away from the riverbank to reduce the impact of future floods in this area. We’re working with the relevant State Authorities on the necessary funding and permits to begin these future works.

Take a look at the photos below to see the extent of damages.

Rocks Ferry Reserve

The force of the floodwater reshaped parts of the riverbanks along Rocks Ferry Reserve. The boat ramp, pontoon, car park, playground, fish cleaning tables and footpath were all either damaged or swept away.

The substantial water flows also left two major sinkholes and damaged approximately 35m of revetment wall and a further 580m of riverbank.

In August of 2021, the interim works began to make the area safe. Our focus was on repairing the open space, riverside beach and part of the footpath to allow temporarily public access to part of the reserve while more permanent repairs were planned.

Following the minor flood event in February 2022, Rocks Ferry Reserve went under water again. Crews responded immediately to continue cleaning up continuing the restoration works.

To date, the open space, riverside beach and part of the footpath have been repaired. We are still working through the large undertaking of restoring our boat ramp, fish table and pontoon, which are estimated to be complete in July 2022.

Take a look at the photos below to see the extent of damages and the repair process.

Captain Cook Bicentennial Drive

Captain Cook Bicentennial Drive sustained significant damages during the March floods, resulting in a complete road closure. 

Works commenced in the last week of May 2021, to repair a large sinkhole that impacted a large section of the road. Our crew completed these repairs in just two weeks, but further up the road, uncovered an upslope slip, downslope slip, and over 1,600 tonnes of debris further up roadway that needed to be cleared. 

As this road boarders National Parks land, we worked closely with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to plan and action repairs on the remaining damages to effectively restore access. Local contractors and specialists were also engaged to clear the massive amounts of debris over the road, and 900m of safety barriers have been installed along the low side of Captain Cook Bicentennial Drive, West Haven. These safety works are proudly funded by the Australian Government through a $250,000 Black Spot Program grant.

The road was re-opened in August 2021, but unfortunately the heavy rains in November and February reactivated some of the landslips, closing the road again.

With safety as our primary concern, road access to the lookout will stay closed while the damage is assessed and repaired. Pedestrians can, however, still access the summit of North Brother Mountain via the popular walking track. 

We are currently planning long-term works, together with Transport for NSW and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, to stabilise the embankment and reduce the impact of large-scale rainfall events in the future. 

Take a look at the photos below to see the extent of damages.

The road ahead

As we reflect on the year that was, it's timely to acknowledge the resilience and strength our community has shown and provide an update on one of the most significant natural disasters to impact our region. 

Heading into 2022, the ongoing management of our Flood Recovery from the March 2021, November 2021 and February 2022 events remains a top priority. 

We are pursuing every funding opportunity available to us through our government partners to help finance repairs. We have worked hard to secure a record $12.588 million contribution from Transport for NSW for completed emergency works, with a further $3.7m approved for long-term restoration works. The Public Works Authority have also recently approved a package of repair works valued at $3.658 million and we have been successful in obtaining a number of grants, valued at just over $403,000, targeted at repairing specific recreational assets across the LGA.

Our flood recovery program is a multi-layered, highly involved process and our timings of work depend strongly on receiving approval and funding for each of the individual repairs, as well contractor and resource availabilities. 

Over the next 12-24 months, we will be working tirelessly to repair the remaining 38% of locations and return our community to its pre-flood state.