Macedon Ranges storm clean up to take ‘at least six months’

Macedon Ranges Shire Council says it will take at least six months to clean up damage from the storm on June 9.

Council welcomed the announcement of $55.5 million in recovery funding from a joint federal and state government program to address urgent requests to help several Victorian communities, including the Macedon Ranges Shire.

Hundreds of residents and landowners have requested help to deal with a range of issues following the storm, where high winds wreaked havoc across several areas of the shire.

Council has contracted several specialist arborists and clean-up businesses to help assess storm damage and lead tree clearing efforts on council roadsides and parklands and provide urgent access to private properties.

A council recovery operations centre at Gisborne has continued to receive enquiries about building damage to homes and sheds; residential and rural fencing losses; water damage; tree damage and debris, from one or two trees to more than 1000 on some larger properties; arborist assessments and contractor referrals; insurance advice referrals; internet and power outages; emergency accommodation referrals; financial support advice and referrals; animal welfare and livestock management; and mental-health support referrals.

Macedon Ranges Council is one of 10 Victorian councils to receive $8.2 million from the State Government to bolster recovery efforts and ensure required recovery staff and expertise are available, helping them put together dedicated teams to coordinate and drive recovery efforts.

Macedon Ranges Shire Council chief executive Bernie O’Sullivan said council was working with all emergency authorities and supporting neighbourhood houses and other health organisations in their response efforts.

Mr O’Sullivan said staff continued to assess the level of impact in the region, natural environment and the extent of the community’s needs.

“Council crews are conducting a large-scale storm response and recovery operation across the shire, continuing to focus on those requests that are posing a threat to lives or property,” he said.

“It has been great to see neighbours step in and assist each other with immediate shelter and urgent personal needs during the peak of this recent emergency. We hope this strong sense of community continues as we enter the long game of recovery.

“We are still assessing what support our community members need for their long-term recovery. This includes any displaced residents and those in the farming sector whose livelihoods are impacted by reduced access to grazing land for their livestock after extensive damage to fencing.”

Mr O’Sullivan said fallen trees and branches would be cleared from nature strips and road reserves as quickly as possible, but that it could take weeks or months in some areas.

He said officers were also identifying sensitive conservation areas while gradually reducing the fire hazard.

Residents and ratepayers can access free mulch at transfer stations. Council has also reached out to Greening the West, which offers mulch to western metropolitan areas, interface and peri-urban councils.

Council urged residents to drive safely and to current conditions on roads, and slow down in the vicinity of roadside tree-clearing works.

Property owners can register for support to pay for flood and storm clean-up operations on private properties across Victoria under Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements by registering with Bushfire Recovery Victoria.

Information on funding and other support services and advice can be found at mrsc.vic.gov.au/storm-recovery.

Council’s recovery operations centre can be contacted on 5422 0237 Monday to Friday 8.30am-5pm or by emailing recovery@mrsc.vic.gov.au.