Flood and Storm review white ants Latrobe Valley’s experience

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath has labelled the Andrews Government’s Emergency Management Victoria’s (EMV) Extreme Weather Event Report reviewing the June 2021 storms and floods as highly disappointing.

Ms Bath said EMV’s review fell short of community expectations by failing to make tangible recommendations or outlining timelines for system improvements.

“The Andrews Government has ignored the experience of residents and did not engage with local experts, glossing over failures in Victoria’s emergency management response,” said Ms Bath.

“Latrobe Valley barely rates a mention in the report, despite experiencing a major flood event in Traralgon and severe storm damage to Yinnar, Boolarra and the broader Gippsland area.

“The review did not to include any measurable recommendations for EMV to ensure the ‘gaps’ in the system will be fixed and community confidence restored.

“Residents deserve answers and accountability, instead the Andrews Government report contains vague learnings – cold comfort for locals still struggling with their recovery.”

“It’s shocking that the Traralgon major flood event is reduced to three paragraphs in a 95-page Andrews Government disaster review.

“The Andrews Government praised its flood response stating – “Significant improvement since the 2010-11 floods yielded community benefit in this event”.

“It is understandable that many flood victims will overwhelmingly reject EMV’s outlandish improvement claims.”

EMV’s report says, “The Gippsland town of Traralgon was particularly impacted by flooding”, and “Following a series of earlier warnings, at 10AM on Thursday, an ‘Evacuate Now’ warning was issued for the vicinity of Traralgon and Traralgon Creek, which continued until Friday 11 June, 2021.”

Ms Bath said Traralgon’s flood response was chaotic – Melbourne based EMV staff were in town, but it failed to monitor and activate an appropriate flood emergency response.

“Across the region local volunteers and first responders were magnificent in their support of a region in crisis.

“EMV also glossed over that fact it issued its first ‘evacuate now’ order four hours after Traralgon families woke to flood water gushing through their homes and cascading down their streets.

“Compounding its inadequate communication, EMV then bombarded Traralgon residents with dozens of ‘evacuate now’ messages for 48 hours after the flood water subsided.

“270mm of rain fell in the catchment in the 24 hours between 10AM on 9th June and 10AM on 10th June 2021 which should have triggered a major flood warning including roadblocks, door knocking, sand bagging and a timely evacuation order issued for the community.

“The previous Traralgon Local Flood Guide, implemented by Latrobe City Council worked well and triggered adequate warnings and targeted actions.

“Furthermore, EMV failed to recognise the situation in Yinnar, Boolarra and district which left residents trapped in their homes, cut off by fallen trees and flood waters for days.

“Labor promised it would listen to the insights of Latrobe Valley residents and local subject matter experts – it hasn’t, and the report is poorer for their omission.

“EMV’s Community Report raises more questions than it answers, and I will continue to pursue better outcomes for our community in State Parliament,” said Ms Bath.