Extensive flooding west of Coraki after water from the Richmond and Wilsons rivers converges and moves down toward the sea.
Extensive flooding west of Coraki after water from the Richmond and Wilsons rivers converges and moves down toward the sea. Marc Stapelberg

Kyogle a natural disaster zone

THE KYOGLE local government area has been declared the 50th natural disaster zone in NSW, with major flooding across the region causing millions of dollars worth of damage.

Up to seven more local government areas in the district are also expected to be declared natural disaster zones as early as today.

With bridge approaches washed out, several major road slips and water damage to homes, businesses and crops, residents across the region are now in clean-up mode.

However, it will be days – if not months – before the full extent of the damage can be revealed.

Kyogle mayor Ernie Bennett said the major concern was the ‘shocking state’ of the roads. “Some of them are seriously damaged. There are a few really big slips,” he said. “They will probably cost more than $100,000 for each one.”

Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan said: “This natural disaster declaration covers Kyogle Shire, triggering a range of assistance for these communities. The council will be able to use this assistance to repair roads, bridges and culverts damaged during this event.”

Mr Whan said the State Government would continue to monitor the situation on the Far North Coast, and the natural disaster declaration could be extended to surrounding areas, if required.

Lismore MP Thomas George said he expected Mr Whan to also declare the Ballina, Byron, Lismore, Richmond Valley, Tenterfield, Clarence Valley and Tweed local government areas natural disaster zones.

The NSW Natural Disaster Assistance Schemes provide financial help for eligible councils, residents, farmers andbusiness owners. Councils are eligible when the damage to public infrastructure exceeds $240,000.

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell met SES crews yesterday but said the worst appeared to be over – for now.

“The river heights are starting to go down, and most people in the caravan park will have moved back,” she said. “But it won’t take much more rain for a major flood.

“I’ve also talked to our roadsengineer. However we won’t know about the road damage until the water recedes.

“But there are a lot of potholes around, and some of them are huge.

“If we aren’t eligible for natural disaster relief we are going to have to find the money to fix the roads from our existing budget.

“That’s going to be very difficult.”

In the Richmond Valley local government area, the Wilsons River at Casino Road bridge peaked at 9m yesterday, resulting in minor flooding.

The Wilsons River at Coraki was expected to reach 5.2m at 6 this morning with moderate flooding affecting the caravan park.

Richmond Valley mayor Col Sullivan said the situation was ‘not too bad’.

“As long as the rain stops we should be fine,” he said.

“We are already putting some figures together for the State Government for some financial assistance, but we need to wait until we can assess the full extent of the damage.”

Ballina mayor Phillip Silver said his shire had some road damage to the usual flood-prone spots.

“We’ve had a couple of complaints about potholes,” he said.

“Our road crews will get on to those as part of our ongoing road maintenance plan.”


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