Residents east of the railway line in Mullumbimby have every reason to be irate – peak flood levels do rise when fill is introduced into a floodplain. This is a hydrological fact, sadly denied by authorities like Resilience NSW.
Denying a truth is not a way forward in a conversation.
When Council prepared our list of government properties for pods, we were told this land would have its pods on wheels (caravans) so they could be whisked away in flood. I’m not sure who said that. Sadly, it was not conveyed with the list.
If the fill is to remain, the sState should consider the following way forward. It includes residents rather than vilifying them. And it doesn’t hold up the other flood victims from moving in.
To balance up the new flood impact on this already flood-impacted neighbourhood, Resilience NSW/NRRC could make Mullumbimby east a first cab off the rank with a pilot project offering the standard three-way package:
1. House-raising where government pays the bulk of the cost; offers a one-stop advice service; does all the paperwork; and cooperates with the landholder to include other wishes that the owner can fund (betterment).
2. Wet-proofing with the same support as above plus with encouragement to also ‘raise’ one room to create a safe space in which residents and neighbours maybe could take refuge during floods, instead of having to travel in the dark and in water to a yet to be determined evacuation centre. The ‘Safe Room’ would be a normal bedroom in dry times but become a refuge when the lower story is inundated. It would have its own electrical circuit and kitchenette. It would have a dry composting toilet in the walk-in. Maybe this approach would overcome the impossibility of this suburb ever having a central evacuation centre.
3. Buy-back/land swap, with the landholder choosing which of those options; and the offer covering properties already identified in Floodplain Plans plus others identified in post-2022-flood reviews of them.
And, if the fill is to remain for two years, the state should guarantee its removal as part of their deal for making good the site afterwards.