Wollongong residents left high and dry by council’s flood policies have revealed how to get their vote in the weekend’s election: fix the mess they have have been lumped with.
But it’s not the risk of flooding they need help with; it’s the flood that won’t reach their floorboards that is costing them thousands.
Their Figtree homes, which have never flooded, are listed as “high risk” because council’s policy assumes any drain narrower 6m is completely blocked in a flood. American Creek passes under the M1 through seven giant culverts that have never been blocked.
This results in insurance premiums thousands of dollars in excess of what they should be. The “blockage policy” affects landowners right across Wollongong’s suburbs.
The Northview Estate Flooding Residents Action Group want an end to this false risk assessment “by whatever means necessary”. While council has now reviewed its policy, it is yet to institute new modelling and share it with insurers.
Group spokesman John Mathieson said residents paid for the delay with up to $500 a month extra in insurance, and anxiety about the future of their properties.
“We have been waiting far too long for the flood modelling in our area to be corrected and for remedial actions to be undertaken,” he said.
“We estimate that the official 100-year flood levels are between 1.5-2m too high.”
We have been waiting far too long for the flood modelling in our area to be corrected and for remedial actions to be undertaken.- John Mathieson, NEFRAG
The residents group instigated a major campaign by the Mercury in 2014 for relief from “policy blockage”. They have released their demands for the next council.
In a document signed by 95 residents and claiming “resounding local support”, the group now demands:
- Restoring the flood-free status of Northview Estate as determined during the approvals process in 1993.
- Immediately extending lower flood heights assessed recently for the Cobbler’s Run development next door, so they apply to Northview.
- Endorsing a proposal from Cobbler’s developer RBFI for a large debris control structure in the creek.
- Ensuring the NSW Government formally takes responsibility for the fact the M1 is the “sole cause” of predicted flooding there.