Flood damage in multi-millions

Flooding in Grafton.
Flooding in Grafton. Debrah Novak

IT WILL be weeks before Clarence Valley Council knows the full cost of the damage caused by the floods, with early predictions estimated to be multi-millions.

Yesterday Mayor Richie Williamson inspected the Clarence Valley by helicopter and said he expected there to be significant damage to infrastructure and the road network, as well as major coastal erosion.

“We have suffered some major damage, roads are still underwater,” he said. “We lost some bridges in Coledale Valley and we're up against a heck of a lot of beach erosion,” he said.

Council operations manager Tim Jenkins said formal assessments would start today, but it would be two to four weeks before council knew the extent of the flood damage.

He said the cost of repairing roads, bridges and maintaining sewerage systems was likely to run into millions of dollars.

“For the last floods five or six weeks ago it was about $1 million,” he said. “This will be significantly more.”

Unlike the last floods, which mainly affected areas around the Orara River, this time Mr Jenkins said the damage was spread across the Clarence Valley.

Yesterday, NSW Police Deputy Commissioner and State Emergency Operations Controller David Owens was in Grafton to assess the damage and speak to the SES. He praised the work of the volunteers, police, the weather bureau and the Rural Fire Service and NSW Fire Brigade.

“It was an opportunity for us to get on the front foot, to get in front of the flood and we did that,” he said.

Deputy Commissioner Owens defended the pre-emptive evacuations on Friday.

“We made the right decision. All indications to the SES said this was going to be a major flood,” he said.

While Mayor Williamson agreed it was better to be proactive than reactive, he questioned how agencies forecast a flood height of 7.8 metres in Grafton, when it only reached 7.4 metres.

“That is a significant difference,” he said.

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