Residents of 20 homes in Kiama evacuated yesterday morning because of fears over asbestos contamination can expect to be back in their homes within days rather than weeks, according to Lake Illawarra Police commander Wayne Starling.
Superintendent Starling said there had been extensive work in the areas of the affected homes in Minnamurra Street and Swan Place yesterday morning and there was "a lot of positive news" indicating 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 because of asbestos fears, but homes would be assessed on a "case by case basis".
The official number of houses declared "uninhabitable" remained at three following Sunday morning'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 Superintendent Starling.
However, he said many residents had been slow to contact their insurance companies, which he said should be a priority for property owners.
Meantime the Kiama Leisure Centre will stay closed indefinitely, but Kiama Municipal Council plans to 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 the north western area of the sportsfields, including the skate park, car park and a section of the athletics track had been affected by debris from the centre's asbestos roof.
"The area that was impacted was a very narrow corridor, the eastern cricket field was not affected," Mr Whittaker said.
"There is plan for treatment starting tomorrow to hand pick the affected areas and that will cover the whole western field.
"It will be a couple of days work and our aim is to get the area available for weekend sport."