Clogged creeks to blame, say residents

Russell Vale resident Barry Basham's three-car garage was inundated with water by Monday night's storms - and it was not the first time.

Mr Basham blamed Wollongong City Council for allowing garbage and weeds to build up in the creek next to his home, which caused its banks to overflow during the downpour.

Residents voiced similar complaints in Lawrence Street, Woonona, where several homes were inundated and a car parked near a creek was almost completely submerged.

Lawrence Street resident Kerstan Rogers awoke in darkness to the sound of her home's power points sizzling and her two dogs "going crazy".

She stepped out of bed and straight into water. When she opened her bedroom door, a knee-high wave came gushing in.

"I was screaming out, 'help!'," Mrs Rogers said. "I started whacking on my neighbour's front window. He said: 'We'll take the car'. I said: 'Your car's not going anywhere'."

The Rogers's house backs on to a creek - known colloquially at least as Collins Creek - which burst its banks early on Tuesday, flooding several homes and cars.

Mrs Rogers's husband, Charles, believed the flooding had been made worse by inadequate culverts and poor maintenance at the part of the creek that is the responsibility of Wollongong City Council.

Neighbours said the area immediately surrounding the culverts had not been cleared for years.

"I believe that if it had been [cleared], there's a good chance my house would not have flooded," Mr Rogers said.

Mr Basham said reeds and weeds in the creek near his house, within the Bellambi Creek Catchment area, "have just been allowed to grow out of control".

"I first got on to council about 12 years ago but they've done nothing," he said. "Whenever there are any heavy rains, the culvert behind the house just gets clogged up with reeds and garbage, and the creek overflows.

"This is not the first time it's happened but it's the worst time and council needs to get in there and clear it up before it happens again."

Mr Basham was busy hosing thick mud from his garage on Tuesday, where a mark showed that water had risen to more than one metre.

Wrecked building materials and family possessions were strewn across the front yard ready to be discarded, while water-logged tools were left out in the sun to dry - and hopefully, still work. Mr Basham found some of the garage contents, including a single gumboot, a garbage bin and a boogie board, at the blocked culvert about 200 metres from the home.

"Council recently cleared up the creek a few streets away but nothing has been done here," he said. "We're left with the clean-up."

A Wollongong City Council spokesman said he was unable to provide a response on Tuesday as staff were busy with the storm clean-up.

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