Yarra Ranges Council is calling on the State and Federal Governments to assist clean up efforts following storms that devastated the region in the lead up to the bushfire season.
Since the storms hit last week, Council’s crews have been working hard to clear debris from Council roads and provide access to areas cut off by fallen trees, to enable residents to access their homes.
Tonnes of tree debris, including large logs from 50m Mountain Ash trees, and other large branches are currently being stockpiled on nearby reserves to enable crews to continue clearing roads as a priority.
Residents are also being challenged by extensive debris on their own properties, calling out for assistance to remove large volumes of material to make their homes safe.
Yarra Ranges Mayor, Fiona McAllister, said that when priority works were completed, there would be a serious issue for Council and the community – disposing of hundreds of tonnes of green waste, wood and debris.
“The storm that hit the region on Wednesday, 9 June was one of the biggest in living memory, and the true scale of the damage is continuing to unfold as time goes on,” Cr McAllister said.
“We’re thankful that staff, community groups, AusNet and State Government agencies have thrown their resources into the immediate clearing works, to support our efforts in providing access for isolated community members and reconnecting them to services.
“However, the looming issue for us is the countless tonnes of tree debris being collected daily. Once everyone is reconnected and recovery begins, there’s a phenomenally large body of work to remove all the wood from fallen trees.”
Cr McAllister said the wood collected over the first weekend of the storm was enough to fill the grounds of the MCG.
“This is an issue for us at Council, with tree debris being stockpiled on roadsides and reserves, and it’s an issue for community members who have more branches, wood and leaves on their property than they can manage through green waste bins,” she said.
“It’s a hard ask of community members to take all this green waste to the tip at their own cost – especially with so many reeling financially or remaining without power.
“Council doesn’t have the resources to clear material from our roadsides, let alone help residents clear this green waste quickly from their own properties.
“This event is bigger than us and will take months to recover from. While we are thankful for the incredible and heartening support we’ve received so far, we need that support to continue.
“We are calling on the State and Federal Governments to help us and our community over the coming weeks and months.
“This means funding to enable Council to clear the material we are collecting from the roads and roadsides, and resources to enable the community to get this material off their properties.”
Cr McAllister said discussions with the State and Federal Governments so far had been very positive.
“Through support from our Federal Member, Tony Smith, we have been able to speak directly with advisors from the Federal Minister for Drought and Emergency Management who have connected us with the National Recovery and Resilience Agency and Emergency Management Australia.
“We’ve also just been advised that the Australian Defence Force have five members going out on the ground to scope the extent of what clean up might look like, and to see what type of support the Federal Government might be able to provide.
“They have been supportive and are in conversations with Emergency Management Victoria and the State Government on our behalf to partner with us in providing support to our community with the clean-up from this storm.
“Our discussions with Local Member for Monbulk and Deputy Premier James Merlino have also enabled positive conversations with Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp in relation to supports required.
“Large parts of the Yarra Ranges community have been devastated by this storm emergency. Council is doing everything we can do support our communities, but we can’t do this alone.
“The response to a storm event of this magnitude requires collegiate support from all levels of government. Council and our community need help, and we need it now.”