Flood safety first -- Strict code planned for one-in-100-year event
By PETER CATON
HOUSEHOLDERS in all future Tweed subdivisions should be able to quickly escape in a catastrophic flood.
That is the aim of tough new council rules which will require roads to every home to be built above pre-%dicted one-in-100-year flood levels.
New critical infrastructure such as hospitals, telephone exchanges and electricity substations will have to be above the highest "conceiv-%able" flood level in most cases 1.8 to 4.4 metres above floods such as the infamous 1954 event.
The public are being asked to comment on the planned new rules which Tweed Shire Council's two administrators Max Boyd and Garry Payne yesterday decided to put on public exhibition for 28 days before finally adopting a firm policy.
Mr Boyd has consistently pushed for tougher development rules in flood areas, warning that most of the people who now live in the Tweed have no experience of the devastating floods of the past especially in 1954.
Under the draft policy, all new residential subdivisions and development would have roads as high as the one-in-100-year flood levels coming to within 100 metres of all allotments. And the walkways to the roads from each home must also be at least the same level.
Homes on new blocks of land created in existing areas would have to have so-called PMF (Probable Maximum Flood) refuges.
The council has defined the probable maximum flood as the highest conceivable with inundation levels 1.8 metres higher than the one-in-100-year levels in the lower Tweed around Tweed Heads, and 4.4 metres above that in Murwillumbah, where water lapped some Main Street shop awnings in 1954.
Where future homes are built on existing blocks of land below the PMF level they will also have to have adequate refuges unless the land is protected by a one-in-100-year flood levy such as in parts of Murwillumbah.
Only minor extensions will be allowed to existing homes without so-called PMF refuges.
The new rules follow a report which warns 28,000 Tweed residents would be seriously affected by a severe flood are about to be put on public display.
The report warned "up to 13,000 of these people would require assistance to evacuated", but said the State Emergency Service had neither enough staff or boats to do the job.
It said about 450 "critical care" patients in various "flood-liable facilities" are among those who would require evacuation.
And flood warning times could be as little as six hours, which would not allow adequate time to evacuate so many people.