The joy of soaking rain
Mayor’s Desk – 8 February 2018
Amid the joy which the welcome relief of the soaking rain brought to us all last week, you will find Councillors and roads staff silently holding their breath, waiting to see what damage may be done this time. Fortunately, this rain was just the right amount, in just the right places, for just the right amount of time, and as such didn’t serve us up another road damage feast.
Flooded roads are one of the banes of our life in council and I’m going to try to explain why by explaining to you the step by step process of repair and timeline for Cyclone Debbie.
- Event happens. (2nd April 2017)
- Once it’s safe to send inspection crews out, we assess the initial safety of the roads.
- Disaster was declared for NBRC (3rd April 2017) and works to re-open roads safely begun, these are called emergent works and I define these as works to make roads safe but not pretty.
- Inspection of roads to identify damage from the event which needs permanent repairs (15th May 2017).
- Application for funding submitted to the State government under NDRRA (Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements). (25th July).
- State government assessment of submission according to NDRRA guidelines as generated by Federal government. This may (always does) involve discussion and negotiation to agree on the scope of the works to be completed for each defect (damaged site).
- State government issues approval to Council for permanent repairs under NDRRA guidelines. (First approval received 20 Sept 2017).
- Council assesses whether this work can be completed by Council crews or whether additional contractors will be required and procurement began.
- Works are programmed and commence with reporting required monthly to State government on progress and compliance with funding guidelines. (Work began last week in Jan 2018).
- Works are completed and final reporting is sent to State government.
- Final audits are undertaken for compliance to approved scope of works and remaining 10% of total funding paid to Council on audit sign off.
Yes it’s a long and drawn out process however if we didn’t have the support of both State and Commonwealth governments, recovery from these disasters would be well beyond councils capacity to fund. To give you an example of how outside our capacity it would be, the damage bill for Cyclone Debbie was approximately $8.5 million – our entire capital budget for water, waste, roads, facilities etc is around $9 million.
The fact is we just can’t afford this as a community and we have to rely on the other levels of government. To do that there are hoops we must jump through, and this takes time. In saying this, the North Burnett has had more than our fair share of disasters and in doing so has had to form great relationships with both levels of government and we are most appreciative of their help and support along the way, as we truly couldn’t do it without them.