Boost for shire’s storm response and recovery efforts

Council has welcomed the announcement of $55.5 million recovery funding from government to address urgent requests to help Victorian communities, including those in the Macedon Ranges Shire.

High winds and storm damage cut a swathe through the shire in early June affecting multiple townships. Hundreds of local residents and landholders have requested help in dealing with a range of emergency impacts.

Operations Crews responded to emergency callouts, and supported the SES in the initial response. Since the event, Council officers have responded to hundreds of calls for on-site clean-up, other support or insurance and financial advice.

Local property owners can now register for support from the $55.5 million to fund flood and storm clean-up operations on private properties across Victoria under jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements by registering with Bushfire Recovery Victoria. A link to the appropriate Bushfire Recovery Victoria webpage has been added to Council’s storm recovery webpage.

Council has engaged several specialist arborists and clean-up contractors to help assess storm damage and lead the clean-up and tree clearing efforts on Council roadside, parklands and provide urgent access to private properties. Council expects the clean up to be ongoing for at least the next 6 months.

Council activated its Recovery Operations Centre based at Gisborne last month and is still dealing with a high volume of enquiries covering a range of issues. These include:

  • Building damage to homes and sheds.
  • Residential and rural fencing losses.
  • Water damage.
  • Tree damage and debris (from 1-2 trees to over 1000 on some larger properties)
  • Arborist assessments and contractor referrals
  • Insurance advice referrals
  • Internet/power down
  • Emergency accommodation referrals.
  • Financial support advice and referrals to the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH), formerly part of DHHS
  • Animal welfare and livestock management with fencing down.
  • Mental health support referrals.

Taking local action

Council has been working with all emergency authorities and supporting our Neighbourhood Houses and other health organisations in their response efforts.

Macedon Ranges Shire Council CEO Bernie O’Sullivan said staff across all key areas of the Council are still assessing the level of impact in the region, natural environment and the extent of our community’s needs.

“Council crews are conducting a large-scale storm response and recovery operation across the shire, continuing to focus on those requests that are posing a threat to lives or property.”

“It has been great to see neighbours step in and assist each other with immediate shelter and urgent personal needs, during the peak of this recent emergency. We hope this strong sense of community continues as we enter the long game of recovery.”

“We are still assessing what support our community members need for their long-term recovery. This includes any displaced residents and those in the farming sector whose livelihoods are impacted by reduced access to grazing land for their livestock after extensive damage to fencing,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

Trees and branches/limbs that have fallen in the storm or are a risk to our community will be cleared from nature strips and road reserves as quickly as possible, but this could take weeks into months in some areas. Officers are identifying sensitive conservation areas whilst gradually reducing the fire hazard.

Council has reached out to Greening the West to offer Mulch to Western metro, interface and peri-urban councils. To date, tree clearing operations have created very large volumes of mulch. Residents and ratepayers can access free mulch at our transfer stations.

In the meantime, residents are urged to drive safely and to current conditions on local roads. Please slow down in the vicinity of roadside tree clearing works and take care when near heavy vehicles and crews.

Accessing support

If you are a resident or landowner in Macedon Ranges Shire and have been directly affected by recent damage, please visit Council’s website for information on the support available. This includes how to register for the $55.5 million clean-up program delivered by Bushfire Recovery Victoria.

The website also provides general advice on tree removal, drainage, access, road closures and roadside wood collection, transfer stations and free tip vouchers for debris disposal.

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