Councillors were provided an update on Council’s works to date to help the community recover from the 9 June storms.
The winter storm that hit the region was one of the largest storms in Victoria’s history, in terms of the scale of loss, damage and the complexities of safety and clean-up works.
Wind speeds above 120km/h caused extensive damage to infrastructure and trees, causing widespread power outages. Seventy-two buildings – including 68 homes – were damaged to the point of being uninhabitable. At the peak of the storm, more than 54,000 residents were without power – 891 people endured power outages for a period of 2-3 weeks.
Now that the initial emergency relief period has finished, Council is the lead agency in charge of recovery from the storm. Bushfire Recovery Victoria is assisting Council in working with more than 20 State agencies and funding bodies on recovery work.
A focus for Council is the longer-term needs of impacted communities, while continuing on-the-ground work such as debris collection in our Special Storm Branch Collection and running Recovery Hubs (currently running virtually, due to COVID-19 restrictions).
Community meetings were held throughout June and July, and issues raised by community members will continue to inform Council’s ongoing recovery activities.
Conservative estimates are that necessary rehabilitation, restoration and recovery work on public land will cost about $65m. This does not include any work required on private property, which has been initially estimated at more than $160m.
Council is not in a position to bear the financial burden of these recovery efforts and is in ongoing conversations with the State and Federal Governments to seek financial assistance.
To date, the State Government has announced an $8.2m Council Support Fund to provide financial assistance to the 10 Local Government Areas impacted by the storm, with Yarra Ranges expected to receive about $3.5m.
In early August, Council wrote to the Prime Minister and several Ministers, asking for Federal Government assistance with recovery efforts and improved telecommunications infrastructure.
The shared responsibility of disaster recovery funding arrangements means that Council will make some financial contribution towards recovery efforts, which will impact our ongoing financial projections.
A revised budget is being prepared to adapt to the financial impacts of the storm, and will be released in early 2022.