Wollongong residents on Kembla and Swan streets are flooded almost every year

Had enough: Dragi Karabeleski cleaning up his Kembla St house, which is flooded almost every year. For the first 30 years he lived there, it never flooded.

Had enough: Dragi Karabeleski cleaning up his Kembla St house, which is flooded almost every year. For the first 30 years he lived there, it never flooded.

The kind of flooding that hits the residents and businesses of Wollongong city’s southern edge was meant to be a 20-year, or perhaps a 50-year, event.

But residents of the southern end of Kembla St, and businesses on Swan St, find themselves inundated almost every year.

Flooding was rare or non-existent until about five years ago, long-time resident Dragi Karabeleski told the Mercury.

He said when he built his two-storey brick house in the early 1990s, there were no warnings or conditions relating to flood risk from the council when his plans were approved.

This year, it was enough to keep the water from his living room. But the same can’t be said for his garage.

For Mr Karabeleski it’s a raw deal. “Never we had trouble,” he said.

“Now, the council gets the rates, the insurance goes up, and we lose as the value goes down.”

Ask them about it and they answer as if in chorus: it didn’t flood before the nearby golf course was developed and a high-rise complex built.

Storms have flooded homes and businesses in February 2012, March 2014, June 2016 and now this week – seemingly every time there is a big storm.

Jodie Atkins’ Wollongong Window World had about 25cm of water through it, ruining stock once again.

She said last June the damage cost about $100,000.

“It’s only since they’ve built on the golf course and the high rise,” she said.

“The water used to sit over there – and now it doesn’t.”

Some years, unusually high tides were blamed for giving the water nowhere to escape. But Thursday’s flooding happened as the tide was well on its way out.

Haydn Atkins rushed out to move his cars when the flash flood was at its peak about 3.30pm but found the going heavy.

Sogged again: Haydn Atkins mops up at Wollongong Window World, which got about 25cm of water through the premises. Pictures: Ben Langford.

Sogged again: Haydn Atkins mops up at Wollongong Window World, which got about 25cm of water through the premises. Pictures: Ben Langford.

“You stepped down from the gutter and it was up to your waist,” he said.

The council gets the rates, the insurance goes up, and we are losing as the value goes down. - Dragi Karabeleski

It was feared the buildup of vegetation in J.J.Kelly Creek made flooding worse. The council upgraded the culvert to improve water flow, but flooding continues.

Almost 19 years after the devastating 1998 floods the Wollongong city flood plan, which includes Kembla St and Swan St, has been completed but not implemented.

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