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Image shows the devastating affect of the storms. Image courtesy Bryce Weick Photography. Image shows the devastating affect of the storms. Image courtesy Bryce Weick Photography. Featured
21 July 2020 Posted by 

STORM CLOUDS OVER WAMBERAL'S FUTURE

It's a natural disaster: Council enlists Govt
DALLAS SHERRINGHAM
CENTRAL COAST has called on the State Government to declare a natural disaster after last week’s East Coast Low created severe coastal erosion and damaged dozens of beachfront properties at Wamberal.
The ‘disaster call’ will enable affected residents to seek assistance and support to recover, while Council would be able to access funds to repair infrastructure impacted by the storms.
 
The normally quiet row of luxury homes set beside traditional seaside cottages hit the headlines in dramatic fashion on the weekend with graphic images of the devastation and desperate residents and owners flashed around the world.
 
The residents were angry at the council’s lack of action and threats over attempts by residents to carry out their own works to save their properties.
 
This boiled over when they were given a short amount of time by police to gather essential items from the properties and they were then barricaded with a steel fence.
 
North Entrance also suffered massive damage in the battering, but residents there have been able to stay in their homes
 
At its extraordinary meeting on Monday night, Council acknowledged the severe weather had caused great distress to residents. 
 
Council will not take further regulatory action in respect of any coastal engineer-designed actions residents take in the next four weeks to protect their properties,  providing it would not have a significant adverse impact on other properties or land.
 
An Emergency Operations Centre has been set up. This is the base where NSW Police are leading the coordination efforts of State Emergency Services, Council and other government agencies responding to the local emergency. 
 
The Local Emergency Operations Centre at Kariong has been activated to bring agencies together and take critical actions to manage the immediate resident and public safety risks at Wamberal and North Entrance.   
 
Central Coast Council staff have been supporting the State Emergency Services at the Wamberal site since last Thursday.  
 
No time to blame
 
Mayor Lisa Matthews said it is important for State and local levels of Government to work together on the issue.
 
“This is a not a time for blaming each other – it is a time for us to work together to deliver long-term solutions for the Coast, including for those who have been so terribly impacted by this event,” Mayor Matthews said.
 
Council has also called on the State Government to fast track recommendations of the Wamberal Beach Management Options Cost Benefit and Distribution Analysis Report finalised in August 2017.
 
Ocean View Dve at Wamberal was closed to general traffic to allow emergency vehicles, residents and essential services access to the area. 
 
Wamberal Beach has also been closed to the public indefinitely to manage safety and minimise risk to the community. Council staff have been picking up asbestos from the beach.
 
Public Works engineers are on site and continuing their important assessments which are informing the operation.
 
Leading coastal engineering consultancy Royal Haskoning DHV will provide recommendations for recovery actions to mitigate further beach erosion in the short term.
 
A community meeting was held with affected residents on Sunday and those in high-risk properties were advised to leave for their own personal safety. Residents were able to return to gather personal effects and to secure their homes during low tide yesterday and today.
 
Welfare agencies are continuing to contact the affected properties daily to assess any needs and provide ongoing support including accommodation. 18 properties, amounting to 43 residences are impacted with 10 residents being provided with temporary accommodation.
 
Utilities including power, gas and water have been switched off to affected properties. Properties in the danger area have been fenced off for public safety. NSW Police and security patrols are monitoring the area.
 
Meanwhile, the State Government has appointed a Local Recovery Coordinator in response to the Wamberal disaster.
 
Lee Shearer, a former NSW Police Force Assistant Commissioner, has been appointed to the role. Ms Shearer previously held the role of Central Coast Coordinator-General for the NSW Department of Planning and Environment. 
 
Case of priority
 
Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast and Member for Terrigal Adam Crouch said the appointment would better support the local community, many of whom were forced to evacuate.
 
“Ms Shearer will build on the work by the Local Emergency Operations Controller, Superintendent Tony Joice to protect lives, minimise damage to properties and clean up the beach,” Mr Crouch said.
 
“Following the community meeting on Sunday, it’s clear that local residents have no faith in Central Coast Council to prioritise their needs,” he said.
 
“That is why the Premier, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and myself have appointed Ms Shearer as the Local Recovery Coordinator.
 
“In addition to dozens of private properties, the hundreds of millions of dollars of public assets along Ocean View Dve must be protected.”
 
The primary function of Ms Shearer as the Local Recovery Coordinator will be to coordinate consultation between stakeholders, as well as identify and raise emerging issues relating to erosion at Wamberal Beach.
 
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said the appointment of the Local Recovery Coordinator demonstrated the NSW Government’s commitment to supporting the Coast following disaster. 
 
“We recognise the significant impact the coastal erosion has had on people’s homes, and on their lives. I would like to thank all the emergency personnel who have supported the Wamberal community over the past few days,” Mr Elliott said.
 
"Ms Shearer’s appointment will ensure recovery is effectively coordinated and prioritised. Ms Shearer will provide excellent support to the local Central Coast community, bringing local knowledge and an established local network with her to the role.”
 


editor

Michael Walls
Publisher
P: 0407 783 413
E: Michael@accessnews.com.au

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