[author]Story and photos Luis Feliu[/author]
A full assessment of the impact of a massive landslip that destroyed part of the State Emergency Service (SES) unit complex at Murwillumbah during last week’s flooding is expected to be carried out this week before major repair work can commence.
Tweed Shire Council is waiting for the cliff face of Reservoir Hill behind the building to dry out before it surveys the damage and what has to be done to prevent further damage to the building on Kyogle Road near Murwilllumbah High School.
Unit controller Chris Chrisostomos said the damaged parking bays used for flood boats and trailers closest to the cliff may have to be rebuilt further away and extensive drainage works carried out to remove further risk of slips.
A council spokesperson said the repair work is likely to be covered under natural disaster funding announced for the Tweed this week.
The council has estimated costs at around $2.3 million in damage to infrastructure throughout the shire.
Mr Chrisostomos told Echonetdaily this week how a sequence of freak events last Tuesday morning preceded the huge landslip which tore through the iron roof of the building, bringing down huge amounts of soil, trees and vegetation into the building.
‘When I came in that morning I noticed the spoon drain at the edge of the building had been blocked by a minor slip so called council to come and have a look at it… then soon after that the lights flickered on and off and we saw a huge number of trees had toppled onto power lines just down the road.
‘We cleared the road and returned to find another slip had thrown more mud onto the building so we moved all the boats, trailers and vehicles from the parking bays.
‘It wasn’t long after that a car smashed into the power pole opposite where the trees had come down and the power went out, so we connected the generators up and got back to work. It was getting to be a busy day with lots of calls.
‘Then all of a sudden we heard a huge crash – it was horrendous – and rushed out to see a huge slice of the cliff had broken away and smashed into the building, ripping a hole right through the roof.’
The SES unit held a debriefing meeting on Tuesday night to see how operations went.
In the wake of the flooding, Mr Chrisostomos has made an urgent plea for more volunteers to join the Murwillumbah SES which covers the town and surrounding villages.
‘We had 36 volunteers flat out over the three days and attended more than 150 jobs across our area, from flood rescues involving people stranded in their cars to trees blocking roads, food drops and medical evacuations,’ he said.
‘So we desperately need more people, especially to help in the office.’
He said volunteers could be any age, and retirees wanting to help out would be most welcome, as they needed more hands on deck for the administration side of things and answering phones.
If you’re interested and can help the SES unit, call Mr Chrisostomos on 0407 755 846.