Home' South Gippsland Sentinel-Times : January 4, 2017 Edition Contents THE SOUTH GIPPSLAND SENTINEL-TIMES, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4, 2017 - PAGE 3
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Disaster narrowly averted
Leongatha SES Unit volunteers Virginia Hall, Terri Jones and Tony Lindhart arrived to
offer assistance to Turner Street residents in Leongatha after some flash-flooding there last
Leongatha SES volunteer Val Bremner
phones in the situation at a home in Bruce
Street Leongatha last Thursday where there
was some minor damage caused by flash-
This is the problem drain in McIndoe Park
where storm-water built up after it was unable
to escape due to a blocked drain. m130117
EMERGENCY services had been warning of
damaging weather for hours last Thursday, but
when a torrential downpour hit Leongatha at
about 2.30pm, its intensity caught some people by
Of most concern was a large storm-water drain
in McIndoe Park, which rose almost 2 metres in
a matter of minutes, threatening nearby houses.
At one of the homes, water entered a back porch
area, while it lapped at the front door of another
home, prompting the owner to call the Leongatha
SES Unit for sandbags.
“I’m not so worried about this,” said the resident
with the flooded patio.
“My main concern is the drain,” she said.
A resident of Millicent Street, who has previously
been impacted by flooding from the drain, said it
happens every time there’s heavy rain.
“It used to happen all the time but they’ve since
done some work to make the outfall pipe bigger
and they’ve straightened it out so it runs better,”
said the resident.
“But it doesn’t matter how good it is if they don’t
clear away the branches, leaves and rubbish from
the drain and the pits. It’s always going to clog up.
“It’s no good if they don’t do the maintenance,”
The South Gippsland Shire Council, which was
quickly on the scene after reports of flooding, de-
nied the flooding was the result of lack of mainte-
The shire’s Manager Operations, Infrastructure
Maintenance, Fred Huitema, said instead that
the debris which blocked the pit and culvert was
washed into the drainage infrastructure at the
height of the storm.
“Council maintains McIndoe Park and the drain
to the highest standard possible within the re-
sources available,” Mr Huitema said.
“All Council road and drainage maintenance
works are prioritised according to the level of risk
to ensure that the available resources are focusing
on the safety of the community.
“Council has recently carried out works to in-
crease the capacity and aid the flow of debris
through the culvert.”
He explained that in the days leading up to the
storm, there was some hot dry weather which
placed trees under stress and they tended to shed
more sticks and leaf litter than normal, under
“Summer storms like the one Leongatha experi-
enced on Thursday have a high rainfall intensity in
a short time. This combination can create a higher
amount of flood debris which can be problematic
with the free flow of water through the drains.”
Council’s maintenance crews arrived in Turner
Street as soon as possible to clear the drains and
other Council staff visited the affected homes to
provide support and advice on clean-up and in-
In fact, they arrived before the Leongatha Unit
of the SES, which had been called out by a neigh-
bour, who saw the flood water, from the storm-wa-
ter drain and blocked culvert, lap to within a few
centimetres of her front door.
SES called out
Controller of the Leongatha SES Unit said the
service had received four calls in 15 minutes; from
two houses in Turner Street and one on Bruce
Street affected by the downpour and flash-flood-
ing, and another in Peart Street where a tree had
come down in the backyard.
“We didn’t have to do a great deal. The shire was
on the scene before us,” said Matt Saario.
“Our members went in and checked on the resi-
dents and offered what help we could,” he said.
On the scene, former controller Tony Lindhart
said he felt the property owners were fortunate
enough to get away with little damage.
At Bass Coast, there was “nothing to report”, ac-
cording to the shire.
Although Phillip Island, Wonthaggi and district
were lashed by a couple of tropical cells, they
passed over quickly without any damage.
“We didn’t receive any customer requests as a re-
sult of flooding,” said a spokesperson for the Bass
Coast Shire Council.
“Inspections were performed by staff at various
locations during and after the rain event, but by all
accounts the drains coped well,” he said.
The South Gippland Shire Council was quickly on the scene of flash-flooding in Leongatha
last Thursday, not only clearing the scene but also meeting with residents to hear their ac-
counts and concerns. m120117
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