Evacuated residents to return home 'within days'

Evacuated Kiama residents can expect to back in their homes within days rather than weeks according to Lake Illawarra Police commander Wayne Starling.

Residents of 20 homes were evacuated this morning due to asbestos contamination fears. 

Superintendent Starling said extensive work had been carried out in the areas of the affected homes in Minnamurra Street and Swan Place this morning and there was ‘‘a lot of positive news’’ the asbestos clean up would not drag on.

‘‘We understand it is important for the community to get back to normality, not just for the people of Minnamurra Street and Swan Place but the broader community as well,’’ Superintendent Starling said.

Police and State Emergency Service authorities could not rule out more homes being evacuated due to asbestos fears, but it would be a matter of assessing homes on ‘‘a case by case basis’’.

The official number of houses declared uninhabitable remained at three following Sunday’s event, but at least 35 homes were ‘‘extensively damaged’’ and the fate of those homes was now in the hands of insurers according to Mr Starling.

However he said many residents had been slow to contact their insurance companies which should be a priority for property owners.

Meantime the Kiama Leisure Centre is to remain closed indefinietely, but Kiama Municipal Council intends re-open the leisure centre’s playing fields by the end of the week.

Kiama council’s director of engineering and works Bryan Whittaker said it was the north western area of the sport fields, including the skate park, car park and a section of the athletics track that had been affected by debris from the centre’s asbestos roof, with specialist teams moving in tomorrow to ‘‘hand pick’’ the affected area.

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