Check your eligibility for State Government storm clean-up program

A large pile of wood from fallen trees, stockpiled in Kalorama while emergency works continue.

Yarra Ranges residents are encouraged to register for the Victorian Government’s storm and flood clean-up program which is being facilitated by Bushfire Recovery Victoria as a result of the massive damage during the June 9 and 10 storm and flood event.

The free Victorian Government Storm and Flood Clean-Up program covers the demolition and removal of any structures on eligible private property that were destroyed or damaged beyond repair by the June 2021 storms and floods.

The Storm and Flood Clean-Up program is also accepting registrations for the assessment of dangerous trees on private property which pose a risk to a place of residence or personal safety.

Yarra Ranges Mayor Fiona McAllister said last week’s announcement of $8.2 million for 10 impacted Councils, and this week’s announcement from Bushfire Recovery Victoria (BRV) about a new clean-up program were welcome news, but Council continued to work with recovery agencies to understand the municipality’s longer term recovery needs.

“While we understand the impacts from the recent storm were widespread, the damage in Yarra Ranges was of a magnitude we have never experienced before from a storm,” Cr McAllister said.

“We’ve had flooding in some parts of our municipality, while in other areas, thousands of trees have fallen, leaving behind massive trunks, logs and debris that all need to be cleaned up before the fire season.”

Cr McAllister said the latest clean-up announcement from BRV would help respond to part of the problem, where people whose homes, sheds, businesses or vehicles were destroyed will be eligible to apply for the clean-up program.

Residents are encouraged to contact BRV to discuss their particular issue and to assess their eligibility for the program. BRV is also taking registrations for assessments of hazardous trees which pose a risk to a place of residence.

For fallen trees on private property that haven’t damaged or destroyed a structure, VicForests is offering to provide property owners with advice or an assessment on whether the material might be suitable to be used for timber products.

Cr McAllister said Council and BRV were aware other residents were facing the significant problem of removing massive trees that have fallen on their properties five months before the start of a fire season.

“It’s a complex challenge but one that isn’t currently being addressed with the current program being offered,” she said.

Cr McAllister said that Council and government agencies and services continued to assess the damage and impact from the storm across the municipality, and Council was focused on both the immediate needs and the longer-term support that would be required to help residents and businesses recover.

While significant progress had been made in the past four weeks, with many roads being cleared and power restored to most affected people, the damage was extensive and there was still much work to be done.

“This disaster comes on top of successive lockdowns that have left our communities reeling. Further damage inflicted on them by the recent storm, not to mention effects from the ongoing pandemic, could potentially be felt for years,” she said.

“While the practical and financial support provided to community members and businesses so far through the State Government and the recent BRV announcement has been appreciated, we are continuing our discussions with the State and Commonwealth about the longer-term recovery needs of our municipality.”

“The Yarra Ranges is a much-loved part of Victoria, but at the moment, while many regions in the state are enjoying the benefits of an intra-state tourism boom as a result of Covid restrictions, there are many parts of Yarra Ranges unable to open up to visitors because of the impacts of this recent storm.

Cr McAllister thanked the hundreds of emergency services and relief agency personnel working alongside Council staff and community members that had provided much needed help to storm impacted communities.

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