MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council is facing a massive clean-up and repair bill after recent heavy rain caused landslips, flooded properties and destroyed made and unmade roads across the peninsula.
The mayor Steve Holland said there had been landslips at Shoreham Beach, Beleura cliff, Mornington and Drum Drum Alloc Creek, as well as McCrae, where eight homes were evacuated when land gave way on View Point Road.
The Beleura cliff path, which has been earmarked for repairs since several landslips last month, is now closed after sections of it fell away on Monday.
Holland said repairs were already underway on dozens of rain-damaged sealed and unsealed roads damaged, and Shire Hall beach, Mornington was closed until further notice.
Some community services have had to be relocated due to flood damage, including Mornington Community Support Centre, which has been able to offer services from the Mornington Community House (3/91 Wilsons Road, Mornington).
The council has also dedicated a phone line for people whose properties have been impacted by the rainfall. By Tuesday last week there had been 220 calls for assistance with 72 direct reports being made via the Report a Drainage Issue on the shire web page.
With more rain expected, Holland said council staff were on standby in case a relief centre was needed for people displaced by flooding.
Holland said the frequency of rain events had increased over the past few years and the peninsula’s drainage system was not coping,
He said it was not built to deal with the unprecedented levels of rainfall.
But it wasn’t just stormwater that was ending up on people’s properties.
South East Water‘s service delivery manager Simon Willis said severe rainfall in the early hours of Monday 14 November affected the sewer network across the peninsula, including Mount Eliza, Mornington, Mount Martha, Safety Beach, Dromana, Rosebud, Flinders, Shoreham and Hastings.
“Our sewer network across the peninsula is designed with extra capacity for stormwater ingress during wet weather. However, the volume of rainfall inundation from this event was greater than our network was designed to handle,” he said.
“High intensity rainfall events can overload the stormwater drainage system. This can cause stormwater to enter the sewer system through infiltration via pipes and maintenance structures, low lying residential and commercial property plumbing fixtures or stormwater connections illegally connected to the sewer network,” Willis said.
“During this event we prioritised the safety of our staff and maintenance crews who were on site. They worked 24/7 monitoring flooded areas and locations affected by wet weather sewer overflows to reduce impacts to our customers, community and environment.”
SEW faults and emergencies responded to calls from 10 customers who reported “wet weather” overflows inside their homes.
“Our team members went out to speak with these customers, assessed the damage and helped them with their insurance claims, or found some alternate accommodation where necessary,” Willis said.
He said SEW had done all it could to avoid spills, including monitoring sensors with alarms that detected potential blockages or overflows.
Holland said every council was dealing with a similar issue.
“No [stormwater] system could have dealt with this type of event, and they are increasing in frequency,” he said.
“We have an excellent cleaning and maintenance program for the part of the drainage system that is managed by the shire. We regularly sweep streets to reduce blockages and inspect and clean pits and pipes where needed.
“In October we proactively visited properties we know are prone to flooding and checked all the pits and pipes were in good shape. Unfortunately, we had no advance warning of this rain event.
“We will continue to do all we can to support our community through this event. I urge anyone who has a drainage issue to report it through the website.”
Residents who have had their homes impacted by the rain event can phone the council on 1300 850 600 and press 1 for flood assistance.