NOW is the time for action, says Wonthaggi Life Saving club President Mark Scott.
Following a heavy downpour on Friday, it is now likely both Wonthaggi Life Saving Club (WLSC) buildings in Cape Paterson will be condemned.
The severe water damage to the clubhouse interior and structure has resulted in the 51-year-old building being deemed unsafe.
It could even be condemned.
And the observation building is expected to face a similar fate due to foundation issues.
But what’s worse is this could’ve been avoided, had the club received funds for a major project in their 2014 Masterplan.
“The second point of the Masterplan was to install modern draining around the low-lying facility,” said Wonthaggi Life Saving club President Mark Scott.
“We are susceptible to floods, but no-one has seen anything on this scale.
“This is a major outflow point for the town’s water, the current drainage system had no hope in taking the torrential storm’s water away.”
Cape Paterson received between 125mm and 175mm during Friday’s weather event.
Much of this water made its way towards the ocean by passing around the club’s buildings.
Flowing down the bay beach car park road like a river, the water escaped drainage junctions at the carpark – on higher ground to the WSLC – before water began gushing down and creating a dam between the toilet block and observation building. This formed a pool of water over 1.5m which then made its way to the ocean escaping either side of the observation building.
“The water usually flows out on the western side of the toilet block, but that trail had been left unmaintained and is a big part of why we now see so much damage now,” Mark said.
As the water made its way to sea, the trail of destruction was most noticeable on the beach side of the observation building.
Previously the home of a three-tonne concrete access ramp was now a four-metre drop.
The adjoining stairs were also dislodged, falling into the new sand valley.
With council officers closing off the area shortly after midday Friday, work has since been carried out to stabilise the valley that was formed on the beach.
Cape Paterson residents and members of the club have questioned local and state government as to why the facilities were not developed according to the 2014 Masterplan.
“It’s been an issue for years, the Liberals promised $2m last year before the state election,” Mark said.
But then they didn’t form government.
“It’s just going to take some real money. We fund raised all summer to pay for the recent refurbishment works in the observation building, they were set to be finished this week.
“Now we need to be serious: Are we either going to spend $500,000 fixing this building, or are we better investing in something new?
“We call this the hub of where the locals come to swim or volunteer, but the Cape Tavern is the heart, we really hope they can re-open as soon as possible.”
Mark was appreciative for the support of Life Saving Victoria (LSV).
“LSV have been the first to come to our assistance, and our rock so far.”
Buildings are insured, though Mark fears the value the properties are insured at are unlikely to play much part in a rebuild.
“We need to turn this disaster into an opportunity,” Mark said.
An insurance assessor was on-site yesterday, (Monday, May 13).
Bass Coast CEO Ali Wastie said she understands State Government funding would be required.
“Assessments will be made in the coming days and council will work with the relevant authorities and the community to determine the best course of action and possible funding arrangements through the State Government.
“Council’s focus now moves into the recovery phase. Council issued an Emergency Order on Friday Evening, which required the building to be secured and evacuated.
“Council Officers have been on site today (Monday) and have extended the order for a further three days, which will allow for further structural assessments to take place,” said Ms Wastie.
“Sand renourishment works were completed over the weekend to help protect the Life Saving Club building from damage from high tides.
“Council is currently on site making further assessments and undertaking repairs to the road and cleaning up damage.”
Who will save us?