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Letter to the community - Scenic Rim Disaster Reconstruction

I'd like to take this opportunity to update you on Council's post-disaster reconstruction program throughout the Scenic Rim.

I acknowledge local road conditions in many parts of the region, particularly our gravel road network, have deteriorated significantly due to flooding and stormwater damage caused by
ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

I'm not happy about it, I'm sure neither are you, but we cannot control the forces of nature involved in the most destructive natural disaster to impact the region in two decades. Nor can we fix the damage overnight.

Almost half the roads within the Scenic Rim have sustained some degree of damage and the cost to repair this will exceed $40 million. Council's damage assessment of all 1316 sealed and unsealed local roads within the region has found that 592 sustained damage.

I'd like to be able to tell every resident the affected roads in their area are next on list for repair, but in reality this is an 18-month program of disaster reconstruction.

This means your particular road might be repaired in month one, month six or month 18, but it will be repaired and it will be done as quickly as possible in a systematic and prioritised manner regionwide. I thank you for your patience in the meantime.

I can provide you that assurance because all levels of government - local, State and Federal - recognise the cost of restoring such widespread damage is beyond the capacity of local councils and ratepayers.

As a nation, we are fortunate that funding is set aside under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) to support communities recovering from the destructive forces of nature.

For Scenic Rim, the damage bill from ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie is close to one-and-a-half times our annual roads and bridges budget.

However, NDRRA is not a blank cheque. There are approval processes to ensure councils and contractors are delivering value for money outcomes through the process.

To date, submissions from Scenic Rim with a recommended value of approximately $6.4 million have been approved by the Queensland Reconstruction Authority which oversights NDRRA.

Many eligible projects will require extensive planning and design, which will take some time to complete before restoration works can commence.

We have also lodged a significant number of submissions for betterment funding for disaster-damaged roads which, if successful, would see sections of the road restored to a more resilient standard than pre-disaster condition.

Council expended approximately $1.4 million during the post-disaster emergent works period to restore critical road infrastructure and connectivity and has subsequently delivered approximately $1.8 million in approved restoration work under the NDRRA program.

Money is being spent and repairs are being delivered on the ground already.

While this is occurring, Council is committed to undertaking any temporary remedial works required to support continued use of its road network, albeit at a standard that is lower than usually provided.

Residents with specific concerns about the condition of roads in their area are encouraged to contact Council to discuss.

On the existing unsealed road network, motorists are urged to drive to the prevailing conditions, regardless of their familiarity with the route, as road surfaces can be variable even in the best conditions.

Approximately 400 kilometres of unsealed road has sustained damage which will require approximately 500,000 tonnes of gravel to repair. More than 30,000 square metres of sealed pavement will also require repair. Ten floodways and three bridges also require reconstruction.

Repairs will require Council to increase its plant resources in the coming months in an effort to restore our gravel road network to pre-disaster service levels as quickly as possible.

It is ironic that our current dry conditions are hampering construction in some areas due to unavailability of water for road-building purposes in the immediate vicinity.

I appreciate the continuing patience and understanding of the community while this occurs. This is a significant program of reconstruction.

Cr Greg Christensen, Mayor