Park avoids flooding

The Illawarra Highway flooded again during last week's rains. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER
The Illawarra Highway flooded again during last week's rains. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

AS rain bucketed down on the region last week, Surfrider Caravan Park narrowly escaped evacuation.

The adjoining waterway, which leads to Little Lake, broke its banks on March 24, and 20 centimetres of water swept through the park.

The second alert level was triggered to warn residents to prepare to evacuate.

Three caravans parked close to the waterway left, but the evacuation order never came.

Resident Marie McCormick said the alert system worked well and only small amounts of water entered some caravan annexes.

"We were very lucky," she said.

"It subsided in time to work in with the low tide so the water was able to escape."

Ms McCormick said she was going to sleep on the couch where she could see the water, but the level dropped by 11pm, so she went to bed.

"I'm a pretty tough old girl, but you start to worry," she said.

Surfrider was inundated in March 2011 and all but seven homes were flooded. Residents are still waiting to see the Elliott Lake floodplain risk management study, due in June.

Albion Park residents were inconvenienced for much of the week, with the Illawarra Highway closed from Monday afternoon until Friday morning.

According to Live Traffic, the northern route out of Albion Park was completely severed for an hour on the Monday night due to flooding on the Princes Highway between the Illawarra Highway and Station Street.

During displays at Centenary Hall for the Albion Park bypass earlier this month, Roads and Maritime Services personnel said the environmental assessment would take three to six years, depending on what the studies unearthed.

However, Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson called for the assessment and concept design to be prioritised.

"I think it can be done quicker," she said.

"This government wasted $1.1 million and two years to get exactly the same research we knew 20 years ago."

She suggested aqueducts along the Illawarra Highway could reduce flooding until the bypass could be built.

"But we need the work to start," she said.

Member for Kiama Gareth Ward said the process could involve federal legislation.

"I'm hopeful it can be done in three years, but there is threatened species and environmental reporting required," he said.