Council shuts book as DIY saves homes

Residents say they bought $750 of sandbags (below) and spent hours clearing drains (above) to keep the flooding at bay in 2021. The council now says it’s case closed because the water didn’t reach their homes.

AS the rainy season approaches, residents living around Beatty Park Reserve fear their houses will again be flooded if Vincent council doesn’t fix drainage problems pronto. 

Homes just north of the park were badly inundated in the 2010 storms. An overwhelmed drainage network, leaves and mulch from Beatty Park clogging the stormwater grates, and the homes being in a low spot that cops water from the aquatic centre carpark all contributed to the flooding.

Never finished

The council made some fixes to upgrade pipes, raise kerbing and partially build a retaining wall to slow the flow and trap debris from getting into the drains. The wall was recommended by an expert consultant’s report in 2017, but it was never finished.

But the water was still lapping at homes in the wetter spells in 2016, 2017 and 2021: “We are still getting flooded,” resident Ray Stevenson says.

Mr Stevenson and other residents headed to the 2022 AGM imploring the council to take action and finish the retaining wall. 

Their motion will be considered by councillors at the April 5 meeting, but a staff recommendation to councillors advises against any further action.

The report says they’ve already spent more than $260,000 on flood mitigation around Beatty Park, and they have three other flood-prone areas to focus on.

The report points out the homes didn’t flood during the hard rain of May 2021.

 

But residents Suzanne and Steve Burke say the only reason their home didn’t flood last year was because they took action themselves.

Ahead of the 2021 wet season they spent $750 on sandbags to temporarily complete the retaining wall, and then spent rainy days making sure the drains were clear.

In a letter to council the Burkes wrote “during this major rain event, Steve spent several hours outside in the storm continually unblocking drains so that they continued to drain the water. 

Personal safety

“This is the only reason our homes were not flooded. [Vincent] admin now claim that the drains worked and ignore this fact that they only drained because Steve put his personal safety at risk to protect our homes. This is not sustainable for us.” 

At this week’s council briefing, councillors requested more information ahead of the full meeting on April 5, wanting to know how often the drains are cleared and how much it’d cost to finish the wall. 

Mayor Emma Cole raised the Burkes’ point that they’d only been spared a flooding by their own desperate efforts and asked staff for answers on that. 

If nothing’s done locals reckon this year might be a bad one. There’s more hard ground at Beatty Park Reserve compared to when the expert’s report was written in 2017: The pavilion that blocked some water has been demolished, and large areas of the park have been converted from grass to gravel gardens.

“We feel like we are sitting ducks,” the Burkes said.

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