LAST Tuesday’s heavy rain hit the Wonthaggi Medical Group hard, with the majority of the building flooded due to an overflowing stormwater drain on Murray Street.
Water rushed into the medical centre’s front entrance doors at around 2.30pm on Tuesday, with at least 30 rooms flooded throughout the building.
The practice was evacuated smoothly by practice manager Gayle Bloch, and SES volunteers were quickly on the scene to limit the damage.
Wonthaggi Medical Group Business Manager John Turner said the sheer volume of water gushing down the drain was too great.
“The water physically lifted the concrete lid of the drain to some height and I’m told that at one point the water was four to six inches high when it came through the waiting room, and it came through like a little tsunami,” he said.
“Insurance assessors seem to think that virtually all the joinery on the ground floor that’s been in the water will have to be replaced and all the carpets will have to be replaced, which is extensive throughout the whole building,
“Our concern was any electrical issues but thankfully the way the building’s designed is that most of the electrical stuff is out of reach of that sort of depth of water.”
The medical group quickly organised makeshift consulting rooms at three Wonthaggi locations to cater for appointments.
Dr David Ehrlich kindly made rooms available at his clinic at 231 White Road, Wonthaggi, and Bass Coast Health provided rooms at the Central Consulting Suites and Grabham Wing Consulting Rooms at the Wonthaggi hospital.
The main practice will partially resume this Wednesday, July 13 at the Allied Health Consulting Rooms, with entry from Billson Street.
Service hours will be extended as necessary to ensure patients are able to get appointments while the number of rooms is restricted.
It is expected that normal services will be resumed in approximately two weeks’ time but repairs and restoration will continue for some weeks.
Bass Coast Shire Council’s Manager Asset Management, Jamie Sutherland said council has inspected the drainage system in Murray Street near the Medical Centre.
“Formwork from building works has been left in the drain which has caused a significant obstruction. Council will be following this up with the relevant property owner,” he said.
“Council has undertaken significant improvements to the drainage system in the Murray Street area over recent years.
“This included diversion of storm water flows from Drysdale Street, construction of additional outfall drains, and road side car park sealing with kerbs to cater for road runoff and roof water from private properties more effectively.
“This is also a timely reminder for property owners to maintain the drains within their own property by regularly removing leaf litter and other obstructions.”
Wet and wild weather pushes emergency services to the limit
EMERGENCY services in South Gippsland were stretched to the limit after heavy rainfall caused rivers to swell, triggering flash flooding.
Nadine Verboon from the Wattlebank Park Farm said that, while these floodwaters weren’t the worst she had seen, the water still came thick and fast on Tuesday.
“The Powlett River burst its banks on Wednesday, and the water was just flowing right through the property,” Nadine said.
“Normally the river is quite low, so at the moment it’s just a matter of waiting and seeing.”
Water from the Powlett River rushed through the low lying areas of the property.
Nadine and her two children, Dakota and Harrison, worked hard after the onset of water to move stock to higher ground and monitor water levels.
Nadine said it was still too early to tell what damage had occurred.
“If we don’t get another deluge of water, it should dry up fairly quickly and there won’t be much damage,” Nadine said.
“This certainly isn’t the worst the flooding has been here on the farm.
“One year we were really worried that the waters would reach the house.
“That hasn’t happened this year, but it’s still a lot of water to arrive in a short amount of time.”
Elsewhere in South Gippsland, local police, SES and CFA volunteers were called out on Tuesday as rivers and creeks swelled to breaking point.
Major flood warnings were issued for the Latrobe Valley and East Gippsland, while South and West Gippsland escaped the heaviest downpours.
Several roads were closed across the Bass Coast and South Gippsland shires in an effort to keep drivers safe.
An official flood watch for West and South Gippsland was issued on Wednesday, July 6 by the Bureau of Meteorology, after rainfalls of between 30mm to 82mm were recorded in the South Gippsland catchments in the 24 hours.
Several incidents occurred in the late hours of Tuesday, July 5, with police attending a car accident in Pound Creek after a vehicle struck floodwaters on a bend, causing the car to veer into a drain overflowing with stormwater.
The couple and their pet dog were lucky to escape injury, with police, SES and CFA crews attending the scene.
In Foster, police evacuated a number of people from their homes along Stockyard Creek as a precautionary measure after a tree blocked one side of the culvert, causing the sudden influx of water surging down the river to bank up and overflow.
Water began to lap perilously close to the edge of properties, however no homes were damaged by the water.
No one was injured, and residents returned safely to their homes.
A temporary evacuation centre was set up at the Welshpool Memorial Hall.
The South Gippsland Shire removed the tree early Wednesday morning.
In the 24 hours leading up to Thursday, July 7, up to 76mm of rain was recorded across the West and South Gippsland water catchments, with another 10 to 20mm forecast for the remainder of the week.
Wild winds whipped up across the region, with peak gusts in the later part of the week in South Gippsland.
Both the Bass Coast Shire and South Gippsland Shire closed roads, including Armstrongs Road in Meeniyan, Ryburn Road in Outtrim, Stewart and Dunlops Road in Middle Tarwin due to be closed for a minimum of one week, and Boundary Road in Foster closed due to debris on the road.
With the Bureau of Meteorology anticipating more inclement weather, the SES advises that all community members should move vehicles under cover or away from trees in bad weather, and to ensure they never walk, ride or drive through floodwaters, and to stay away from waterways and stormwater drains during and after heavy rain.