Council's bizarre flood-risk letter to resident

Dorothy Hayes lives in one of the highest parts in Coniston, roughly 75 metres above sea level - but Wollongong City Council reckons her home could be affected by flooding.

In September, she received a council letter at her Iris Avenue home which warned her that a draft flood study had identified her home as "potentially being affected by flooding".

"It should be noted that properties are identified as affected if the land is likely to become inundated in the Probable Maximum Flood (PMF)," the letter read.

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Mrs Hayes' home is at the top of a large hill and effectively overlooks the rest of Coniston and Wollongong.

On top of that, Iris Avenue is split in two and she lives on the high side, with a steep driveway capped by 12 stairs leading to her front door.

She estimated that her front door was about 15 metres higher that the low side of the road, making any likelihood of flooding hard to fathom.

Curiously, Mrs Hayes says several of her neighbours in Iris Avenue received no such letter.

"Why would a flood come through my house and affect me but not the other residents in the street?" Mrs Hayes asked.

Not that she was expecting her home up in the hills of Coniston to be deluged any time soon.

"I hope not because I pity Wollongong council and all the other 10,000 homes down in the valley from where I live," she said.

"I told them I just hoped that, if I'm going to get flooded where I live, I hope that council had many, many boats for all the residents down around the beaches and the city," she said. "If I was to get flooded Wollongong would be wiped off the map, I can promise you."

Mrs Hayes is insured with NRMA, which has made a habit of inflicting vast premium increases on those it deems to be at risk of flooding or stormwater run-off.

While her latest premium, which was paid last month, was not out of the ordinary, she is "absolutely" concerned that the council's listing of her property as a flood risk could affect her bills.

One of her neighbours, Warwick Stutchbury, owns two houses in the street and said he had not received any letter from council.

He agreed that this classification could inflict dangers on Mrs Hayes' home insurance.

"I can understand the insurance companies getting hold of this information," he said.

"They take it as gospel truth and so they price their risk accordingly."

He claimed council had incorrectly spread the flood zone across the entire catchment.

"Just because there's a flood zone 250 feet (76 metres) down the hill doesn't mean to say the highest person on the hill is in a flood zone," he said.

Wollongong City Council did not respond to a series of emailed questions by yesterday's deadline.

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