Storm and flood recovery efforts continue around the Neerim, Noojee, Tanjil Bran and Walhalla areas in the wake of June’s severe weather events.
Bushfire Recovery Victoria (BRV) is coordinating clean-up efforts, with Baw Baw Shire Council, Regional Roads Victoria (RRV), the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA) all involved in repairs on the ground.
A total of 627 kilometres of roads have been impacted in Baw Baw Shire, with an estimated damage and clean-up bill of $3 million to Council-maintained roads, and even more costly damage to roads maintained by RRV and other authorities.
Between them, Council’s Infrastructure Maintenance team and roads contractors have contributed more than 2,000 hours of labour in storm response across the Shire so far. Works will continue for as long as it takes to clear hazards, make areas safe and get roads back open.
The extent of the damage, particularly around Mt Baw Baw Tourist Road, Walhalla Road and Stringers Creek, means that repairs and restoration works are likely to be lengthy processes.
Mt Baw Baw Tourist Road has been impacted by 13 serious landslips and the road is currently closed from Willow Grove Road to the South Face Road intersection. Only residents and essential services currently have access. It is expected it will remain closed for at least six months as repairs are completed.
In Walhalla, work is progressing on the landslip near the town. RRV is working with Council, WGCMA and DELWP to develop a plan to repair Walhalla Road and Stringers Creek.
In addition to road and infrastructure assessment and repair efforts, Council has also been providing wellbeing support to affected residents, conducting welfare phone checks and organising for Red Cross to door knock and engage with people directly to provide psychological first aid.
Council has also maintained the regular presence of a Recovery Officer in affected areas (subject to COVID-19 restrictions) to understand what the community needs in terms of recovery.
An online community meeting for the Walhalla area has been scheduled for Thursday 12 August from 5.00pm to 6.15pm. Representatives of all authorities and agencies including Council will be in attendance to seek community input on the next steps in the recovery process.
Facilities are currently being organised for residents with connectivity issues to participate via video hook-up at the Walhalla Mechanics Institute.
An in-person community meeting had been planned prior to lockdown. However, given current restriction fluctuations, it was decided that an online meeting would be the safest option to avoid further delays or rescheduling.
Whilst much of the recovery focus remains on the Walhalla and Noojee areas, Council recognises that impacts are felt right across the Shire. To address any questions from the wider community, a livestream event for all Baw Baw residents is also being planned, with a date to be confirmed in coming days.