Heavy rain is predicted in the coming days, and while it could bring an end to an awful fire season, there’s also potential for a new set of challenges for the Eurobodalla community.
Council’s director of infrastructure services and Local Emergency Management Officer Warren Sharpe says too much rain in one hit might see localised urban flooding and falling trees create trouble.
“Worst case scenario could see road closures and potential loss of power if trees fall on power lines,” he said.
“It’s also likely the side tracks we’ve constructed around burnt rural bridges will be washed out, leaving fire-affected communities isolated again. We’re already geared up to restore these as soon as we’re able.
“Our water and sewer systems have been prepared to run without power, and we’re ready for potential ocean surges and beach erosion if the east coast low does set in.”
According to Mr Sharpe, rain that’s too heavy will also impact the shire’s waterways.
“We’ll see ash, sediment and debris from fire-affected areas running into our creeks, rivers and the ocean. In normal circumstances we say don’t swim for three days after heavy rain. But the burnt landscape means we expect water quality to be poor for longer. If the beach looks murky, please don’t swim in it.”
Mr Sharpe said Eurobodalla’s level 4 water restrictions will remain in place even if it rains.
“Our rivers should receive a much needed boost with the rain predicted. We’ll start pumping as soon as we can but refilling the dam takes time, and the length of time we can continue to pump will depend on the extent of rain in the upper catchment,” he said.
Recommendations for Eurobodalla residents ahead of this weekend’s predicted heavy rain:
· Be ready for loss of power at home and work
· Fill your vehicle with fuel and keep it full
· Where possible place a temporary cover over fire damaged septic tanks and on-site sewage management systems. This will prevent an influx of rainwater and possible tank overflows. A berm can also be dug around the tank to re-direct water away from the hole and give extra holding capacity.
· Rain will be a huge relief for residents with water tanks for their drinking water. To minimise contamination, let the first downpour wash debris and ash from the roof and flush through before putting caps back.
· Make sure your gutters and drains around home are clear, especially in areas where there’s leaf fall from burnt trees.
· Check that loose building materials are well contained.
· Don’t swim in murky water or rivers and creeks in flood
· Avoid non-essential driving in fire affected areas, especially west of the Princes Highway
· Take care on all roads - they will be slippery following such an extensive dry period. Drive with your lights on, reduce your speed by 10-20 km/hr, give yourself extra room between the vehicle in front, and put the phone out of reach.
· For assistance during storms or flooding, call SES on 132 500
· Call Triple Zero (000) if your life is at risk
· For assistance with roads and water and sewer, call Eurobodalla Council’s Moruya depot on 4474 1391 or after hours on 1800 755 760.