A Letter to the Community About Disaster Recovery
In March this year the Southern Downs was impacted by ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie. While our water supply benefitted from the heavy rainfall, some of our local roads did not, sustaining significant damage.
Due to the high level of damage, and the opportunity to receive support through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA), Council did not attempt to fix all the damage immediately, instead undertaking only sufficient remedial work to enable the continued use of the damaged roads.
I would like to pass on my thanks and appreciation to those residents who have shown such patience, driving on these roads that have undergone only temporary repair. However if Council had undertaken to fully repair these roads immediately, it would have been at our ratepayers’ expense.
All levels of government - Local, State and Federal – are fully aware of the cost of restoring roads damaged by flooding and know that it is beyond the capacity of local councils and ratepayers; and we are fortunate that funding is set aside under NDRRA.
Over the last six months Council staff in conjunction with NDRRA representatives have undertaken an extensive damage assessment of the region’s road network and found that approximately 300 kilometres of roads sustained damage from ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
Council has now received advice that the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, which has oversight of NDRRA, has approved reconstruction work projects in the Southern Downs. Council has received approval for $11 million in funding so far, and Council has made further submissions for which approval is expected in the short term. This is in addition to the funds that Council expended immediately after the disaster to restore critical road infrastructure and connectivity.
Council has also lodged a significant number of submissions for betterment funding for disaster-damaged roads which, if successful, will see sections of those roads restored to a more resilient standard than pre-disaster condition.
While it would be great to say that every road will now be repaired immediately, that is not possible and it is anticipated that the disaster reconstruction will take approximately 18 months. Work on your road may not start tomorrow, but it will be repaired and it will be done as quickly as possible in a systematic and prioritised manner.
Repair work will be undertaken by Council staff wherever possible and there will be a need to engage contractors in an effort to restore our gravel road network to pre-disaster service levels as quickly as possible.
On unsealed roads, motorists are urged to drive to the prevailing conditions, regardless of their familiarity with the route, as road surfaces can vary even in the best conditions.
Once again, please accept my thanks for your continuing patience and understanding as this reconstruction work takes place.
Cr Tracy Dobie
Mayor Southern Downs Regional Council