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Premier Jacinta Allan praises Seymour’s efforts amid floods

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Grace Frost
Grace Frost
Hi, I'm Grace Frost. I was honoured to report for the Review as their Digital Journalist from mid-2022 to the beginning of 2024. Ive since made a move to the Herald Sun.

UPDATE: January 15, 2024

Community members can access one-off relief payments through the Personal Hardship Assistance Program, PHAP.

The payments are fixed and not calculated based on income; $640 per adult and $320 per child up to a maximum of $2,240 per eligible family. The payments are designed to help cover the costs of essential items such as food, clothing, medication and accommodation.

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To be eligible for a relief payment, a person must have unmet immediate relief needs; their principal place of residence is, or was, in an evacuation warning area, and the floods or storms have damaged their home; or their home has flooded above the floor. People can access a relief payment by visiting an Emergency Relief Centre or calling their council.

January 9, 2024

Premier Jacinta Allan announced in Seymour this morning that she will push for Federal Government assistance for flood-affected communities.

Homes and businesses are being protected by a combined 6500 sandbags as Seymour faces its second severe flooding event in 15 months.

While many Seymour residents and business owners remain wary of receiving support after feeling recovery grants lacked post the October 2022 floods, Ms Allan today assured she would push for fair funding as floods once again sweep the region.

The sentiment followed Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s announcement of $20 million in flood relief grants for south-east Queensland early this morning.

The Premier was questioned if she would advocate for Victoria to receive similar support.

“Victorians can absolutely expect that we will push the Federal Government for a fair share of funding for affected communities and indeed for issues that affect Victoria,” she said.

“We will always be very strong advocates to the Federal Government on those matters.”

Seymour’s Goulburn Park is completely underwater after mass rainfall beginning early Monday morning. Floodwater is expected to recede now that rainfall has ceased.

An evacuation order was issued for parts of Seymour yesterday before floodwaters rose to 6.8 metres last night, leaving Goulburn Park, Kings Park and local caravan parks submerged in water.

Levels did not exceed the October 2022 floods, which peaked at 8.26 metres.

An anticipated 10 to 12 properties have been inundated by the floods, with numbers to be confirmed in the coming days as impact assessments are conducted.

Floodwaters receded to 5.8 meters by 12pm today, and VicEmergency notified residents that it was safe to return home just before 3pm.

Goulburn Park, Seymour as of 2pm today.

Support available

Emergency Services Minister Jaclyn Symes joined the Premier in Seymour this morning to detail support available to people in flood-affected communities across Victoria.

The already-established Seymour Flood Recovery Hub will extend its operating hours from three days to five days to strengthen further recovery efforts.

“It’s so unfortunate that two communities [Rochester and Seymour] that have been so recently impacted have been impacted again, but a slight positive of that is that we have the services already on the ground in our recovery hubs,” Ms Symes said.

“A recovery hub is often set up about six months after an event. We have the situation here in Rochester and Seyour where that service already exists.”

Emergency Services Minister Jaclyn Symes details support available in Seymour as recovery efforts commence.

Personal assistance grants for anyone impacted have also been activated, accessible via local relief centres, while the flood recovery hotline is now operational once again.

Ms Symes announced the Federal Government had agreed to treat the weather event from December 26 and the current flooding event as one event to streamline the ability of local councils to access financial assistance for damages.

The State Government has contacted 13 flood-affected councils likely to need to funding support, which is understood to include Mitchell Shire Council.

Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland said the town needed the security of long-term support.

“I know there’s a lot of comments around the fact that we’ve got the resources on the ground with the flood hub – it’s still temporary,” she said.

“What we need is some security that we’ve got this ongoing support long term.”

Ms Symes said there was ‘no doubt’ that better flood mitigation was needed.

“When you’ve got communities that have been hit twice in 15 months, I know that those conversations after this emergency event are very quickly going to turn to mitigation and they are conversations that are happening at both a local level but also along the national agenda,” she said.

Sandbags line businesses in the town’s centre for the second time in 15 months as floods once again storm the region.

Praise for emergency response

Ms Allan praised emergency response to the ongoing situation in Seymour, thanking the crowd of State Emergency Service, SES, volunteers, Victoria Police and Country Fire Authority personnel at the press conference today.

Seymour SES Unit responded to 50 callouts yesterday, excluding calls for sandbags.

“I also want to extend my great thanks and appreciation to communities who have learned the really difficult lessons, particularly from the October 2022 floods, and have responded by being prepared,” Ms Allan said.

“The volunteers here have also acknowledged the way the community has worked with them, has supported them, and that goes to the strength and the resilience of these country communities.”

Emergency response personnel with Premier Jacinta Allan and Emergency Services Minister Jaclyn Symes in Seymour this morning.

Lake Eildon ‘misinformation’

Ms Symes denied concerns that Lake Eildon had played a role in this year’s Goulburn River flooding.

While water released downstream from Lake Eildon has caused flooding in Seymour in previous years, Ms Symes said she had confirmed it was not the case this time.

“There was no releases from Eildon prior to the events that happened over the last 24 hours,” she said.

“It was because it rained a lot in this region and the creeks fed into the Goulburn and that’s what led to the water rising.”

Flood insurance qualms

Ms Symes acknowledged accessing insurance in flood-affected communities remained difficult.

She said conversations to address the issue with the Federal Emergency Commissioner and at state and federal meetings was ongoing.

“It’s not a simple answer – insurance companies have a risk model and they need to be able to run a business,” she said.

“We’re acutely aware that that affects individuals and we want to make sure that we have got national policy state policies that can perhaps address those issues, but it is complex and I don’t have an answer for you on that today.”

Seymour’s BIG4 Caravan Park has eight of its 26 cabins operational tonight as staff face clean-up efforts while still recovering from the 2022 floods. Management says the park was denied flood insurance for the flood event in 2022.

Lingering concerns

Ms Cleeland said a further damaged road network was causing great concern, with fears of casualties on the roads.

“We’ve got some of the most dangerous roads in the state – this is amplifying that,” she said.

“We’ve got councils that are really struggling to deal with their roads so I hope to see that funding they’re fighting for from the Federal Government and the State Government is going to see a massive injection of funding into our road network.

“It’s too dangerous and we’re going see some of the casualties of these floods on the roads.”

She also urged community members to refrain from swimming in flood waters despite the temptation amid hot summer weather, with the strength of the river causing concern.

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