Flood fears on the rise
MORE than 180 Murwillumbah businesses will be washed away if the town’s levees are breached.
Last year’s flood waters lapped over the levees and Murwillumbah State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers warned it was only a matter of time before flood waters exceeded the 4.5m barricades.
“The fact that the levees have provided protection from flooding since the 1974 inundation of the CBD has led to complacency with a false sense of security that the levee will guarantee the protection of the CBD,” Murwillumbah unit controller Chris Chrisostomos said.
“They’ve been elevated but at some point in time, it could be this year or next year, the levees will be breached.
“Those businesses need to plan how they’ll tackle the situation.”
The SES will host a FloodSafe Program next Tuesday morning to help business owners develop a flood plan.
“It’s in their interests because at the end of the day the security of their business rests with them,” Mr Chrisostomos said.
“The average warning we give is three hours but a great number of those businesses will need more than three hours to pack up and evacuate.”
If the levees were breached, Mr Chrisostomos said water could lap under the front eaves of shops.
“When flooding occurs on a regular basis, as experienced by South Murwillumbah CBD businesses, they know the trigger height of flood gauges that puts them on flood watch and to put flood and evacuation plans into play.
“We are concerned by the fact that many of the business owners have only moved to the area since the 1974 flood and have not experienced flooding. Many of them have chosen to live outside the township and are subject to being cut off from their business before threat of overtopping the levee is evident.”
The levees are 4.5m high and he said in last year’s May floods water came within 15cm of the top.
Tuesday’s business seminar, supported by Richmond Tweed Region SES Unit, will be at the Murwillumbah Services Club from 7am to 8.30am.
The event is free and includes breakfast.
RSVP by tomorrow to (02) 6676 7355.