Byron Shire flood recovery and rebuilding to cost $180m

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Council’s estimate of the cost of recovery and rebuilding after the recent flood events is around $180 million.

Over 200 new infrastructure projects have been added to Council’s works program over the last month, in direct response to the scale of damage caused by the natural disaster.

“We want our community to understand that the floods have caused major damage to our road and infrastructure network,” Council’s Director Infrastructure Services, Phil Holloway said.

“The size and complexity of some projects, combined with the fact that land slips in our Shire are still moving means some of our rebuilding is going to take years to complete.

“We moved quickly on temporary works to repair damaged bridges, causeways and roads so that people had access in and out of our significantly affected hinterland communities. Now we face the bigger task of rebuilding and that is the marathon ahead for us as an organisation,” he said.

“Fortunately the causeways and bridges we upgraded over the past five years all held up under the recent flood events – it shows that our approach of improving the resilience of our infrastructure as we upgrade it is working.

“We will continue this strategy as we rebuild because it makes sense to factor in the size and number of major weather events our shire will face over the coming decades,” Mr Holloway said.

Council is now working on a long-term plan to rebuild the damaged roads, causeways and bridges in our hinterland including Upper Main Arm, Upper Wilsons Creek and the Huonbrook Valley and contractors are being engaged to do the design work and costings.

While this is happening Council teams, along with contractors, are still trying to restore basic access to places in Upper Huonbrook.

“People are still cut off, 10 weeks after the first flood,” Mr Holloway said.

“The landslides in those areas are immense and unstable and with continual rain progress is frustratingly slow for residents, and for us because no sooner are we getting roads open, they are getting scoured away by heavy rain.

“Some people are asking why the initial repairs aren’t able to hold up to this wet weather and the answer is – they were, and are temporary, with creating access for people to get to work, school and the shops, the first priority.

“We are doing our very best and will continue to do so for all our communities but this is going to take a long time, keeping in mind the scale and enormity of this disaster, especially in the Byron Shire hinterland is unprecedented.

“Creeks are flowing where roads used to be and the form of the land has completely changed in places.

“We need to first understand the impact of these natural processes and then come up with solutions. We are positive and we are not giving up – we’re committed to repairing and rebuilding for our community and we are in it for the long haul,” Mr Holloway said.

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