THIS week five years ago, floodwater from torrential rain poured through more than 20 towns in central and northern Victoria, damaging hundreds of homes.
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Rochester, Charlton, Bridgewater and Newbridge were among areas to experience significant flooding as the banks of major rivers burst, leaving helpless residents to flee from areas or be confined to their homes.
At Carisbrook, about 275 homes were inundated with water, displacing some 800 people.
Five years on, Carisbrook Disaster Recovery Committee member Helen Broad says a number of residents fear the town is no more flood resistant than it was.
“They’re worried we’ll have another flood and be in the same situation – and I have no doubt that we will be,” she said.
“I’m disappointed it’s taken us five years to get where we are. The town people are very disappointed, because it’s been so slow.”
Central Goldfields Shire mayor Geoff Lovett said a lot of planning had taken place since, and efforts to “flood-proof” Carisbrook were beginning to enter the next stage.
Central to plans was a “western levee” bank designed to protect the town from major flooding in the future, he said.
“We’ve approved the (levee bank),” he said. “That’s around the $3 million mark.”
The council has been talking to other levels of government and authorities about funding some of the project, he said.
On a smaller scale, physical works – such as removing vegetation and trees – were now being carried out, Mr Lovett added.
“I think there’s a section of the community that feels that nothing or very little has been done. On the surface, that’s a fair comment – but behind the scenes there has been a lot of work done by council, the state government and various water authorities.”
Ms Broad has been a councillor since a by-election last year, but said she was making her comments purely as a committee member. She supports plans for the levee bank.
“What it will cost is nothing compared to the people who are flooded each time it rains heavily,” she said.
Eddington farmer Lloyd Forbes, whose property on the Bendigo-Maryborough Road was flooded, said he believed his land remained vulnerable.
“The councils have cleaned up … made the water flow quicker. But there’s been no substantial project that could help if we got the same rain again,” he said.
But as a farmer who has experienced little rain since, he’s hoping for moderate downpours as the year progresses.
“We haven’t had much rain. It would be good to have a year like in the 1970s.”