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State Labor Member for The Entrance David Mehan. State Labor Member for The Entrance David Mehan.
23 November 2021 Posted by 

MP warns of tragedy over The Entrance flood concerns

DALLS SHERRINGHAM
NO one who saw it will ever forget the tragic day in 2020 when a group of locals tried to hurriedly build a channel through The Entrance sand dunes to avert flooding.
But the locals were warned to stop digging by Council and State authorities who turned up waving fine books. It took Council four days to get to the cause of the flood and take action.
 
The failure to dredge the badly silted up channel at The Entrance led to massive flooding affecting 5000 homes and businesses.
 
Angry locals stormed the next council meeting after their homes were inundated without warning.
 
Amongst those watching on was State Labor Member for The Entrance David Mehan who had long  been trying to get the outdated Central Coast Local Flood Plan updated for more than a year.
 
This week he welcomed advice that the Central Coast Local Flood Plan has finally been updated and is now available on the NSW State Emergency Service website.
 
However, the updated plan has critical flaws.
 
Mr Mehan revealed in 2019 that the2013 local flood plan was out of date and should have been updated in 2018.
 
The lack of an up-to-date flood plan was a factor in the lack of adequate warning given to the community in February 2020.
 
At 10:48pm on Saturday,  February 8 2020, NSW SES issued a minor flood warning for Tuggerah Lakes. The minor flood level for the Lake, according to NSW SES, was 0.90m and the warning predicted this level would be reached on Sunday.
 
No further warnings about flood height were issued.
 
Waters reached the predicted level on Sunday and continued to rise eventually peaking on Tuesday, February 11 at 1.673m, before falling after Council excavated an additional channel through the sand berm at The Entrance Channel.
In welcoming the updated flood plan, Mr Mehan noted it contained no advice on flood classification levels or the issue of opening The Entrance Channel to let flood water out of Tuggerah Lake.
 
“The 2020 Flood showed the existing flood classification levels are wrong and these need to be corrected,” he said.
 
“Critical to controlling the height and duration of flooding is The Entrance Channel and the procedure for actively opening the channel should be part of our flood response plan.
 
“I have written to both the Emergency Services Minister and Council asking that these weaknesses in our flood preparedness be addressed.”
 
Mr Mehan said he had no criticism of Local SES personnel.
 
In relation to The Entrance Channel, Mr Mehan said the Tuggerah Lakes Floodplain Risk Management Study and Plan had recommended a formalised “Entrance Management Strategy to Mange Flooding”. 
 
“The benefits of active berm management of The Entrance Channel need to be formalised following the positive results achieved by using excavators to clear the sand berm during the February Flood.”
 
“The State Emergency Services Minister was on holiday during the bush fires; he was silent during the February Flood; and he has failed to adequately resource our local SES.”
 
He said his concern with the Plan include:
 
The Flood Classification being used by NSW SES to issue flood warnings is different to the Flood Classification contained within the Local Plan. Had the existing Local Plan classification been used, the February Flood warning would have been for a ‘moderate’ as opposed to ‘minor flood’ 
 
Neither the Local Plan nor the NSW SES Warning Guidelines make formal provision for local warnings to be issued.
 
Bureau of Meteorology flood warnings are broadcast by NSW SES which are then communicated locally in an informal way including social media. 
 
The Local Plan contains no provision for opening of The Entrance Channel in the event the sand berm across the channel mouth impedes escape of flood waters as occurred in the February Flood
 
The Local Plan includes a requirement for community education about flood risk and preparation. This has not happened.
 
The Plan can be viewed at:
 
 


editor

Publisher
Michael Walls
michael@accessnews.com.au
0407 783 413

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