Northern Grampians Shire Council is situated in the north central region of Victoria and is home to 11,912 residents. The municipality covers an area of 5,728 square kilometres and includes eight townships – Halls Gap, Stawell, St Arnaud, Great Western, Glenorchy, Navarre, Marnoo and Stuart Mill. The Northern Grampians region boasts a strong rural farming industry along with tourism in and around the Grampians. Major employment for the region includes agriculture, mining, meat production, health and trade.
The floods that swept through Victoria in January 2011 will have a lasting impact on the Northern Grampians community. Each of the towns within the municipality was affected by the one in 200 year event, either directly or indirectly.
Click here to download a map showing the areas affected by the January floods.
The area suffered mass road closures and widespread property damage on Thursday 13 January and Friday 14 January 2011. Most communities within Northern Grampians Shire were isolated on Friday 14 January 2011 due to significant overnight rain.
The Council set up the Municipal Emergency Coordination Centre and several relief centres were established in Stawell and St Arnaud to accommodate dozens of people evacuated from their homes.
In the sort term, this incurred lost revenue for small business and economic downturn amongst tourism operators. It also delayed heavy vehicle access for farmers during harvest, downgraded the quality of grain, and created long-term issues around fly strike, animal welfare and fencing.
Compounding the events of 13 January, a prediction of significant rainfall on the weekend of 5 February created a high risk of flooding and landslides in Halls Gap. This led to emergency services ordering an evacuation of the west side of Grampians Road from the Halls Gap Caravan Park to Lake Bellfield. The Northern Grampians Shire Council again activated a MECC and relief centre.
Until the adoption of the Municipal Recovery Action Plan, the Council’s response to the flood was guided by an Inception Period Recovery Plan, which provided a response framework as well as an immediate recovery structure.
The damage from the floods has been so extensive the reality is it will take two years to fully implement the MRAP actions. This may seem like a long time but it is a massive undertaking, especially in light of the need to source extra funding, find contractors (many of whom are already occupied in Queensland and other parts of Victoria), liaise with authorities and government agencies and then carry out the work.
Northern Grampians Shire Council’s annual capital works budget is on average $6 million. The flood recovery will stretch our resources far beyond what we are normally equipped for hence the need for government funding and extra people power in the form of the Flood Recovery Team.
The Council’s management team and Councillors continue to advocate for State and Federal Government grant funding to ensure the flood recovery effort is a success. To date, this advocacy has seen around $20 million in grant money awarded to community projects and infrastructure repair and restoration works across the Shire.