June 8, 2016 11:00am
TASMANIA wakes today to the long, difficult and expensive task of cleaning up after the worst floods in generations as the height of the crisis appears over.
Local communities and the Australian public have opened their hearts and wallets as large areas of the state’s North and North-West remain inundated and the flood damage bill is expected to reach into the tens of millions of dollars.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will head to the state’s North today to inspect the damage wrought by the floods.
The State Emergency Service said it had received almost 400 requests for help since Sunday and there were about 173 flood-affected structures, including 52 homes.
Low-lying areas of Launceston were spared further flooding as peaks and high tides coincided yesterday afternoon.
Last night Invermay residents were told it was safe to return home, and the evacuation centres at the Launceston Silverdome and University of Tasmania were closed.
But months of work assessing and repairing the damage lie ahead.
In Launceston, Premier Will Hodgman said the State Government had been working with the Federal Government to ensure the state received the assistance it needed.
Mr Hodgman said he had been able to gain an understanding of the damage and what might be required in the recovery.
He said there had been an extraordinary response.
“My message to Tasmanians is that they need to remain especially vigilant, there are still threats presenting and there will, in the days ahead, be many risks to people in their community,” he said.
“The Government is providing initial emergency relief to those affected and it is true there will be ongoing calls to governments at all levels and the broader community.”
Mr Hodgman said he had talked to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull twice in recent days.
“The offer from the Federal Government is that they stand ready to provide full support to our state,” he said.
“We expect to make an announcement about further support very soon.”
The state’s farming sector has borne the brunt of the disaster, with heavy livestock and crop losses, and months of cleaning up ahead.
Despite some properties remaining inundated, at others, farmers are able to gain access and assess damage.
SES northern regional manager Mhairi Revie said it was important for residents to remain vigilant.
“The flooding on the North Esk river has well exceeded the 1929 flows,” Ms Revie said.
“The floods waters are here to stay for a few days. We still have very, dangerous flows and heights in the South Esk.”
Tasmania Police continued to search for two men missing in the floods but Inspector Matthew McCreadie said hopes of finding Ouse man Trevor Foster were slim.
“It is now in excess of 60 hours since Mr Foster was last seen. Sadly, we must be realistic that there is little hope of finding Mr Foster alive,” Insp McCreadie said.
A hat suspected to belong to Mr Foster would be tested for DNA, he said.
The search for a 63-year-old man swept away at Evandale on Monday will resume this morning.
Police also moved to assure Launceston businesses they could operate after reports two people were pretending to be emergency service workers and falsely telling businesses they needed to evacuate.
More than 100 roads remained closed due to flooding and damaged bridges.
Launceston City Council general manager Robert Dobrzynski said the council would assess damage to infrastructure before the cost of the floods could be known.
“It will probably be next week before we can begin a detailed assessment,” Mr Dobrzynski said.
The Bureau of Meteorology said major flooding continued in the lower reaches of the South Esk river around Hadspen and the Trevallyn Dam area. Trevallyn Dam continues spilling through the Cataract Gorge to Launceston.
Since yesterday morning, there had been no significant rainfall recorded in the Derwent catchment, with a minor flood warning for the area below Meadowbank dam.
Hydro Tasmania dam safety manager Chris Topham said dams were operating within their parameters.
Floodplain Management Australia president Ian Dinham said levees, such as the 13km levee system in Launceston, had provided adequate protection against flooding.
“The hard work of the Tasmanian State Emergency Service in very trying conditions must be applauded. Without their efforts losses would have been much greater,” Mr Dinham said.
Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association president Wayne Johnston said many people were in the process of assessing damage.
“We need a co-ordinated approach, so we’ll be working that out over the next few days,” Mr Johnston said.
Source : The Mercury