June 8, 2016 – 7:18PM
Nick Ralston and Ava Benny-Morrison
Residents on Sydney’s Collaroy beach say they will not abandon their storm-damaged homes and are willing to contribute to build a long-disputed seawall in a bid to prevent further destruction of the properties.
The State Emergency Service spent a fifth day helping recovery by storm-affected communities from Lismore in the north of the state and parts of Sydney’s south-west including Picton, Milperra and Chipping Norton.
Collaroy Beach on Wednesday morning after extensive sandbagging. Photo: Peter Rae
At Collaroy, on Sydney’s northern-beaches, volunteers deployed more than than 10,000 sandbags on Tuesday night to shore up vulnerable beachfront homes and an apartment block at risk of tumbling into the sea.
Their efforts were reinforced on Wednesday when boulders were brought in ahead of another night of forecast rough surf conditions and strong winds.
Collaroy resident Tony Cagorski said he and his beachfront neighbours along Pittwater Road had now given agreement in principle to Northern Beaches Council to help pay for a seawall in front of their properties.
The clean-up continues at Collaroy beach following the weekend’s storms. Photo: Peter Rae
A 3000-strong community rally stopped the construction of such a wall in 2002. Plans to construct a $10 million wall were then approved in 2014 but were again never acted on because of a dispute over who would fund it.
Residents are understood to have now reached an agreement to pay $120,000 each towards the wall’s construction with those who cannot afford the lump sum able to pay in instalments.
“We were expecting the worst when we came back in today,” Mr Cagorski said. “The engineer said the house is sound; there’s only minor damage at the back.
Collaroy beach on Wednesday morning. Photo: Peter Rae
“We’ve got a 99 per cent chance of rebuilding here and fixing it up.”
Residents of about a dozen homes are being housed in emergency accommodation with the council to issue emergency orders this week to advise what repairs must be carried out on the properties.
Meanwhile, a third day of searching by police has failed to find University of Sydney student, Endicott Ackerman, who was last seen diving into dangerous surf at Bondi Beach on Monday afternoon.
Peter Watson with partner Karen Cassidy. Photo: Supplied
The US national was studying science and residents of St John’s College, where he lived, held a prayer service for the 20-year-old on Tuesday night.
“The hearts of the entire St John’s community are with the family at this unimaginably difficult time,” college rector Adrian Diethelm said. “We are a close-knit community, and an event like this brings us together as we support each other and Endicott’s family.”
With the search now suspended until sea conditions improve, Mr Endicott is feared to be the sixth victim of the massive storm front that battered the east coast of Australia.
Sydney storm photos: aftermath of weather damage
Beaches across Sydney, including Collaroy, Cronulla and Coogee, were badly hit by storm damage, including a massive king tide on Sunday night. Photo: Peter Rae
Two other men are missing, feared dead, in Tasmania, including contract delivery driver Peter Watson.
The 63-year-old and his partner Karen Cassidy were overcome by floodwaters while delivering Fairfax newspapers south of Launceston early on Tuesday.
Mr Watson called his family from the roof of his van to say goodbye before being swept away. Ms Cassidy was found alive clinging to a tree about five kilometres downstream.
A Fairfax Media spokesman said the company’s thoughts were with Mr Watson’s family.
“Our heartfelt thoughts are with the family and colleagues of the contract delivery driver and his partner who were delivering newspapers for us when caught in floodwaters in Evandale near Launceston,” a statement said.
“We’re relieved the man’s partner is safe. However, our deep concerns remain for the driver who is still missing. All our support and care is being offered during this truly difficult time.”
Source : Sydney Morning Herald