State flood response receives multi-millions boost

Fraser Barton |

Over $94 million will be spent improving preparedness for and emergency responses to NSW floods.
Over $94 million will be spent improving preparedness for and emergency responses to NSW floods.

Flood preparedness and emergency services will be boosted under a nearly $100 million NSW government investment.

The funding is aimed at bolstering State Emergency Service responses primarily along the Hawkesbury River in Sydney’s northwest but also in at-risk communities across the state.

The $94.7 million package follows several bouts of heavy rain and flooding across NSW this year that forced residents from homes.

The government will seek to improve disaster planning, fund fleet maintenance and equipment, support training and volunteer recruitment and enhance public information under the four-year arrangement.

A further $18 million will be invested over the first year to improve preparedness, response capability and support for SES volunteers.

It is expected by the end of July the service will have rolled out 164 new emergency assets across the state including 40 vessels, 75 ark angel rafts, 45 command vehicles, two heavy rescue vehicles and two trailers.

NSW Premier Chris Minns (file)
Chris Minns says he wants a concise mitigation and response plan for the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley. (Flavio Brancaleone/AAP PHOTOS)

Service units in the Northern Rivers, Central West and Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley regions have all received equipment delivering on recommendations from the 2022 NSW Flood Inquiry.

The Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley is also set for over 100 infrastructure upgrades following heavy rain in the region this year.

More than 600 residents were ordered from homes in low-lying areas earlier this month, while hundreds more were isolated and 30 houses were left uninhabitable in April.

Sydney’s largest reservoir – the Warragamba Dam – also spilled water equivalent to half of Sydney Harbour after hitting 100 per cent capacity. Mr Minns at the time promised to look at all possible solutions, including dropping the Dam’s levels.

As part of infrastructure upgrades, proposals to build a bypass of Pitt Town to streamline flooding evacuations are now available to the construction sector.

The NSW transport department will also begin talks with industry on a $500 million jointly commonwealth-funded new Richmond Bridge to be around 10 metres higher than the existing one over the Hawkesbury River.

The Hawkesbury River at North Richmond in 2012.
The height of Richmond Bridge over the Hawkesbury River has long been an issue during floods. (Matt Black Productions/AAP PHOTOS)

Mr Minns said the government’s plan is to have a concise flood mitigation and response plan for the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley.

“This includes creating safer, faster evacuation routes, improving flood resilience on our roads and ensuring the SES is well equipped to safeguard our communities in times of crisis,” he said.

The funding boost represents the largest ongoing commitment in the agency’s history, service acting commissioner Deb Platz said.