Big clean-up causes headaches as costs surge towards $60m
e had estimated 500 tonnes of debris, but it looks closer to 1000. HOBART LORD MAYOR RON CHRISTIE
THOUGH the floodwaters have subsided, pockets of destruction remain.
More than two weeks have passed since the catastrophic floods that tore through Southern Tasmania.
More than a dozen families remain in temporary accommodation, unable to live in their flood-damaged homes, and many businesses remain closed.
The collapsed river banks, landslips, fallen trees and ripped bridges also remain — pushing the combined public and private damage bill to near $60 million.
The municipalities of Kingborough and Hobart were hit hardest by the deluge of May 10-11, and both councils say the repair work will take months.
Hobart Lord Mayor Ron Christie said the damage bill keeps growing, as inspectors and engineers investigate more sites.
Early last week Ald Christie estimated 500 tonnes of trees, rocks and rubble needed clearing from the Hobart Rivulet, but an inspection on Friday revealed the volume is almost double that.
“We had estimated 500 tonnes of debris, but it looks closer to 1000,” he said.
There is more than half a metre of silt and rubble in a section of the rivulet tunnel system near Campbell St. The debris includes large boulders and pieces of concrete that have washed down, bearing testament to the force of the water.
Ald Christie said the Hobart damage bill was now closer to $25 million, with the repair list including the South Hobart tip, washed-out bush tracks, New Town Rivulet, Hobart Rivulet, roads and gutters.
South of Hobart, the Kingborough Council is also still assessing the damage — which it estimates will be in excess of $2 million to council infrastructure.
Kingborough’s engineering executive manager David Reeve said work crews were focused on clearing debris from stormwater drains in case more downpours come.
“We will be doing the clean-up for months,” Mr Reeve said.
The areas that received the most significant damage were Huon Rd, the Redwood Village dam, Whitewater Creek, the Trial Bay jetty and the Kingston Beach breakwater. There has also been extensive damage to bridges, footpaths and roads across Kingston.
Mr Reeve said the Kingston Beach pontoon, which broke from its mooring, would not be fixed until spring and the path along Whitewater Creek would be closed for months.
He said the damage to the natural vegetation along Whitewater Creek, including collapsed creek banks and fallen trees, would take much longer to recover. The track is covered with not only fallen branches and boulders, but broken fences, roofing material and other household debris.
To add to the headache for Kingborough Council, its own Civic Centre also suffered flood damage and will take several more weeks to repair.
“At least half of the bottom floor of the Civic Centre flooded, ruining carpets and desks,” Mr Reeve said.
About three quarters of the staff that work in the Civic Centre have been relocated to temporary accommodation in the council chambers and the Kingborough Family Day Care offices.
Mr Reeve said the council would need to apply for Disaster Relief Funding, and would also seek assistance from the State Government.
Channel Court shopping centre at Kingston also suffered damage, with about a dozen stores on the Woolworths level badly affected by water.
While Woolworths and Big W are back trading, a significant amount of work is still required at several stores before they can reopen.
It will be a long time before the Brookfield restaurant and function centre at Margate reopens, but owner Julia Ridgers said the community had rallied to support her through the clean-up.
“We’ve had locals and regular customers come in every day to help clean up with us,” Ms Ridgers said.
“Brookfield is everything to me but now I understand how much it means to other people,” she said.
The building was badly damaged when a wall of water hit it during the floods, submerging the ground floor.
Another business that will remain closed for a long time is Retro Steel Furniture in South Hobart.
Owner Jason Haas, a sheet metal worker by trade, had created a studio of artistic furniture pieces that he had either created or restored.
“The furniture was all ruined. All that survived was some of the steel furniture and that is full of mud.”
He said it had taken a couple of years to create the col-