Almost a year since flood water pushed through his home, Russell Ramsdale is looking skyward and praying for a miracle.By Racheal Willett
Almost a year since water pushed through his home, washing away a lifetime of memories and creating financial and emotional devastation, Russell Ramsdale is looking skyward and praying for a miracle.
He is hoping for two things.
Firstly, that Mother Nature spares him and his Reilly’s Road, Havenstock Drive and Katamatite Road neighbours from the torrential rainfall that became trapped in their yards and inundated their homes in March 2012.
And secondly, that if the rain does come again some sort of mythical superhero will swoop in to save the day.
Why a superhero?
Because despite 12 months of campaigning, asking for help, seeking solutions and appealing for action – nothing has been done to fix the problem.
If, and when, the rain falls, there is nothing to stop homes from once again being inundated with water.
Mr Ramsdale vented his frustration at the inaction of authorities who “hide behind their processes and double speak without consideration for, in this case, more than 20 homes and families”.
“Have we been proactive? Well, we have been before a parliamentary flood subcommittee which produced a report, spoken at length at countless meetings with the Moira Shire, Goulburn Valley Water, North-East Water, VicTrack, AusTrack and other authorities and government ministers both personally and through our local member Tim McCurdy,” Mr Ramsdale said.
“We have supplied endless pictures, video and information, these have been received with what we now believe was a condescending smile and a nod of the head, which we originally mistook for a caring demeanour. “Of our councillors, local or otherwise – nothing. Obviously 12 months caused the problem to go away. No feedback from any of the above.”
Katamatite Road tomato farmer, Peter Ross, who suffered immeasurable damage to his home and business in the 2012 floods, seconded Mr Ramsdale’s frustration.
“The worst thing is knowing, from talking to people and getting information, that to fix this problem, to stop it from happening again would cost around $25,000,” he said. “The solutions are there, simple solutions, and we’ve pointed them out time and time again but still nothing has been done.”
Mr Ross said after losing his crop, paying for those lost tomato plants and then new ones to replace them, along with ongoing equipment replacement costs, his business was still struggling to recover.
“It will be two or three years before we even get back to where we were,” he said. “And that’s if it doesn’t happen all over again.”
Mr Ramsdale said the residents needed a disaster plan that would allow immediate action should flooding again threaten homes.
“The reality is people aren’t going to stand here and watch the water come again,” he said. “When the water starts to flow over the Katamatite-Yarrawonga Road from the Muckatah depression that would be the trigger for people to act, whether or not they had permission to do so.”
Mr Ramsdale said authorities should not underestimate the frustration, fear and desperation of homeowners.
“What would be the consequence if some brave community-spirited soul said in that moment that enough is enough and did what needs to be done to save these homes. Would this not reflect badly on those who did nothing and lacked the courage to do what we pay them for?
“I suppose I will be looking for a superhero if the event comes again, Batman, Superman, Santa, the Easter Bunny? Yep, I am that desperate.”
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