Residents of Upper Coopers Creek are now completely cut off, a week after Byron Shire Council warned them not to even walk across the landslip site on Upper Coopers Creek Road.
In a letter to the editor, published today, Upper Coopers Creek resident Duncan Shipley-Smith told Echonetdaily, ‘One young family has no telephone landline, no internet and no mobile coverage. They have a four-month-old baby and a six-year-old child in their care. There has been no financial relief from any government agency and many of us are suffering financial hardship because we are unable to attend work.’
This week councillors and staff have had a series of fly-in-fly-out meetings with the stranded residents and another is due today.
But Mr Shipley-Smith said it’s time to end the talkfests and start doing something.
‘We are awaiting the promised ground exploration from the authorities to establish suitable footpaths around the landslip but in the meantime the only access is across a section of creek, which is a hazardous waterfall shin-deep in rushing water.
‘This creek crossing is currently our only avenue of escape in the event of the “catastrophic collapse” of the landslip area as forewarned by Council’s sub-contracted geotechnical engineers. Council’s advice is not to cross the landslip area at all,’ he wrote.
A twice-weekly helicopter delivery of food, gas, medicines and other essential supplies has been organised but even this has been problematic for residents.
‘We are expected to establish accounts with grocery stores and make arrangements for parcels to be delivered to Mullumbimby Showgrounds for shipment by helicopter… however, some in the community have no credit cards or internet banking and must somehow make alternative payment arrangements for essentials or else evacuate,’ Mr Shipley Smith said.
Byron Shire Council has identified a suitable path for an emergency four-wheel-drive track and has obtained permission from landowners to commence construction. But the council says it would be for the use of emergency vehicles only and not available to residents, even as a walking track.
National Parks and Wildlife Service has identified ‘a possible pedestrian walkway from Jasper Hall and across the creek onto the other side of the Upper Coopers Creek Road (the good side). Permission from landowners will be needed and a creek crossing put in place,’ council said yesterday in an email update to residents.
‘This is being progressed,’ it read.
But not quickly enough, according to Mr Shipley Smith, who has formed an Upper Coopers Creek Landslip Action Group page on Facebook.
‘We want vehicular access to and from our homes as soon as possible and demand that a temporary truss bridge be installed immediately. We also demand that the state and federal funding agencies make immediate provisions for disaster relief for affected community members and make funding available to local council to assist them in repairing the road or re-establishing a new one,’ he said.