Flood and storm recovery

The Central Coast is starting to recover from the impacts of recent severe weather event which saw substantial rainfall and localised flash flooding late February into early March 2022, however parts of our region are still heavily impacted.

Safety and supporting the affected community continue to remain a priority for Council.

A Recovery Committee has been established and Council is working with Resilience NSW as we move forward.

Whilst water is receding there is still major flooding continuing throughout the Hawkesbury area. Power remains out in the area however Ausgrid continue to address power outages where accessible to do so. The Rural Fire Service (RFS) are making arrangements to deliver fuel for generators which has been donated by a volunteer. The SES and RFS are continuing to contact residents where possible and monitor flood levels and deliver food hampers and fuel. WelFAC have provided hampers and water with continued supply available where required. The Ambulance Service, RFS and NSW Health are continuing to assist with welfare checks and provision of support.

The Evacuation Centre at The Diggers at the Entrance remains open and continues to operate 9am to 6pm as needed. Residents in temporary accommodation will start to return home if possible.

The RFS and SES together with Council compliance staff worked on the evening of 9 March to address a dam on a private property at Holgate at risk of collapse. The Dam was pumped out to reduce levels to 24% overnight. An Emergency Order has been issued by Council to engage an engineer to assess and undertake repairs.

Please continue to watch any local weather warnings from Bureau of Meteorology any advice from NSW SES should further weather events occur.

For emergency help, call NSW SES on 132 500, or in a life-threatening emergency, call Triple Zero (000)

Weather, waterways and beaches

Weather forecasts for the Central Coast will see a significantly drop in rainfall and provide an opportunity for the water levels in our catchments and waterways to recede and land start to dry out.

Flooding has eased on the Wyong River and Tuggerah Lake and the NSW SES has issued an ‘all clear’ and lifted evacuation orders and advised it is now safe to return. Flood levels have dropped but you should take care when returning to the area as flood damage can be widespread and utilities may not be in service. More info: www.ses.nsw.gov.au

At the request of Resilience NSW and the Local Emergency Management Officer as Impact Assessment for Tuggerah Lakes will commence. Due to the extreme rainfall, there are high amounts of debris expected to be flowing into the lake.

All 15 patrolled Central Coast beaches remain closed. The Grant McBride baths and the ferry at Wisemans Ferry also remain closed. With current large dangerous sea conditions and large tidal variations do not attempt to access rock platforms to observe sea conditions.

As we enter the recovery phase of this weather event, swimming and any other recreational activities at Central Coast beaches and waterways is not recommended for at least one week (seven days) and until advised by Council when it is safe to do so. The standard advice following a storm event is to avoid swimming in our ocean beaches for at least 24 hours and for three days at our estuarine locations – given the severity and extended nature of this current weather event, this advice has been extended to at least a week (seven days) for both ocean beaches and estuarine locations.

Pollution alerts are currently in place for a number of Central Coast beaches – daily pollution forecasts can be viewed online at the Beachwatch website.

If boating is necessary on the waterways, please be aware that floodwaters have hidden hazards and to look out for debris.

Whilst significant beach erosion has been observed, particularly on some of the more northern beaches of the Coast including Soldiers Beach, The Entrance North Beach and Lakes Beaches . Fortunately, there have been no reports of damage to private property, with only limited impacts to beach access infrastructure at some of our northern beach locations.

Alert for falling trees

Following a period of heavy rain, a trees root system can be compromised as the soil become saturated. Be on the alert for any high wind predictions and subsequent tree falls.

For emergency help regarding trees down on private property call the NSW SES on 132 500 or visit their website www.ses.nsw.gov.au for information on how to plan and prepare for storm or flooding emergencies.

For fallen powerlines or trees on powerlines please call AUSGRID on 13 13 88. Please DO NOT GO ANYWHERE NEAR FALLEN TREES, they are often tangled with powerlines and can be extremely dangerous.

Fallen trees over roads can be reported to Council.

Roads

Throughout the severe weather event, Council’s road crews have attended over 120 after hour callouts, as well as closed more than 80 roads across the Coast, with a number of road closures still in place due to flooding.

Council road crews continue to respond to fallen trees over roads, landslips, fix potholes, and repair other damage to our road network. Council’s Emergency Incident Committee is continuing to liaise with Transport NSW to collectively address impacts on roads. We ask for the community’s continued patience as we prioritise responses.

Council has repaired over 5,300 potholes as at 10 March and continues to undertake proactive inspections and repairs, and attend to customer requests according to priority. Water entering and weakening the underlying road pavement and the added stress of traffic is the main cause of potholes, which is why we see more potholes after periods of heavy rain.

Whilst many roads have re-opened some remain closed. For full details please see our Road closures web page. For road and traffic updates visit Live Traffic NSW www.livetraffic.com

Remote communities such as Spencer, located along the Hawkesbury River, continue to be isolated with key access routes such as Wisemans ferry Road closed due to landslips and fallen trees. Council is working with the NSW SES, Ambulance Services and other relevant services to provide supplies and assistance during this time. Once river levels further recede, Council crews can commence clean-up works and have the road fully opened. A Local Recovery Committee has also been established to help support affected residents and areas.

Please drive carefully and report any potholes or road damage caused by weather events by calling Council on 1300 463 954 or submitting online centralcoast.nsw.gov.au via the ‘Report an issue‘ page.

Water and sewer services

Our water and sewer network is beginning to return to normal operation but there will continue to be impacts for some locations whilst repair works are undertaken and floodwaters subside.

All Central Coast Water Treatment Plants have returned to full operation and residents can resume normal water usage.

Locations that use Vacuum Sewerage Systems – including Davistown, St Huberts Island, Tacoma and South Tacoma – may experience sewer service interruptions as our crews work to bring the systems back to normal operation. If you are experiencing a sewer system disruption, please immediately call Council on 1300 463 954.

Terrigal Lagoon, Wamberal Lagoon, Avoca Lagoon, Cochran Lagoon, Lake Macquarie near Koowong Road at Gwandalan, Tuggarah Lake at The Entrance (south of the bridge), Avoca Beach near the SLSC and the outlet of Salt Water Creek have all been impacted by sewer overflows and stormwater runoff – we strongly advise against swimming at these locations. Pollution signs have been placed at locations known to have been impacted by sewer overflows and stormwater runoff but please be aware that water quality has been generally impacted by the storms.

Upper Mooney Dam is at 100 percent and has minimal overflow during rain periods. For all current dam water levels please go to the Love Water website.

For all current water service interruptions please go to the Water Outages page of our website.

Residents are requested to continue to conserve water while water treatment plants at Mardi and Somersby work to process highly turbid source water that has entered our dams as a result of the rainfall.

Waste services and clean up

As the water recedes and we begin the clean-up, we ask for the community’s patience as we attend to the most urgent calls first until we reach all affected areas. Some areas may need additional time to dry or be repaired before we can access for clean ups.

Weekly kerbside bin collections are continuing as normal; however some minor delays may be experienced due to high demands. For properties on sections of road currently closed to vehicles, kerbside services will resume as soon as the roads re-open. Keep your bins on the kerbside (if safe to do so) until they are collected. Collections will continue over the weekend where possible.

Seagrass and smaller items of vegetation debris from lake and river flooding can be placed into your green waste bins. Be careful not to overfill or compact your bin as they have an 80kg weight limit.

Larger volumes vegetation and bulky household waste can be booked as a bulk kerbside collection through 1Coast (as part of your annual bulk kerbside collection services). We cannot collect loose seagrass or other similar loose items, but we will empty and leave small boxes or bags (provided they can be lifted safely).

For sandbag disposal, if possible, split the bags to remove sand and place in your garden where it won’t wash away. Place empty bags in the red lid garbage bin.

Support and recovery assistance

Support services are available for impacted residents to aid recovery.

Disaster Relief Grant

The NSW Government announced 7 March 2022 that the Central Coast has been included in the Natural Disaster Declaration which will allow those affected in our community to be eligible for flood assistance. The Disaster Relief Grant is administered by Resilience NSW. For more information, go to nsw.gov.au and search ‘disaster recovery’ or call 1800 018 444.

Disaster affected people can be granted immediate assistance if they do not have the financial resources to meet their immediate needs. Financial assistance can be sourced from the Evacuation Centre who will assess and also refer to appropriate agencies such as Samaritans for support and material aid and Chaplaincy services.

Flood Disaster Recovery Small Business Grants

NSW small businesses and not-for-profits (NFP) affected by the severe weather and floods in February and March 2022 can now apply for up to $50,000 in NSW Government support. Payments can go towards the cost of safety inspections, building repairs, cleaning equipment, materials needed to resume trade, disposing of debris and spoiled stock, or leasing temporary space. Businesses can apply via the Service NSW website or by calling a Service NSW Business Concierge on 13 77 88.

Your mental health matters

The NSW Government’s Head to Health has been designed to provide mental health support to those in need during these challenging times. Call 1800 595 131 during business hours or go online to mindhealth.org.au/flood-support

If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, sad or need help during any this emergency and recovery phase, there are also many local health and wellbeing services available. Find out where to get help.

Health & safety during clean up

Avoid unnecessary risks during clean up.

• Do not enter a damaged building or structure, unless deemed safe to do so by authorities.

• Take great care around electricity – follow the SES Electricity Safety Tipslaunch.

• Be alert to snakes, spiders, rats and other wildlife that may have taken refuge in the building, structure or furniture.

• If removing or moving waste, remember to practise basic hygiene. Use appropriate personal protective equipment, including dust mask, gloves, covered shoes or boots and full-length clothing to cover your arms and legs.

• Wall and floor cavities should be checked for mud, debris and floodwater. If items are not completely dry, mould or mildew may develop.

• All cuts and abrasions should be cleaned, treated with antiseptic and covered immediately. If you have a deep cut or wound, if a wound has had contact with floodwaters or if a wound develops redness, swelling or discharge, seek immediate medical attention.

• Avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Use an insect repellent on exposed skin areas and reapply every couple of hours. Cover up as much as possible with loose-fitting and light-coloured clothing. Should you or any of your family have severe diarrhoea or vomiting, please seek immediate medical assistance. If you have these symptoms, you’ll need extra fluids to replace what you lose. The best fluids to take are those that contain a mixture of special salts (electrolytes) and sugars, (e.g. Gastrolyte) which can be purchased from local pharmacies. For further information on maintaining health during and after floods and storms, go to NSW Health’s website or call 1800 health direct or 18000 022 222.

• NSW Health Fact Sheet – Staying healthy during and after floods

• Beyond Blue – Looking After Yourself – Emotional Responses After a Disaster

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