Watered down report gives few solid answers

Posted 26th Nov 2015

The long overdue Dunedin City Council report on the infrastructure performance during the June flood event point to a culture of “she’ll be right”, which has had huge implications for an already vulnerable community, Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said today.

“The release of this report has been long-anticipated by the public in the hope it would provide some answers to burning questions on the June flood event. Instead it raises more questions than answers, and provides little guidance to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

“Significantly, the report confirms the widespread belief that the Portobello Pumping Station, which serves as the drainage system for the flat area of South Dunedin, St Kilda, and lower Tainui, was not operating to capacity during the flood event.

“We are yet to see whether flawed maintenance of the stormwater network and mud-tanks were a contributing factor, although it is anticipated that this will be the case. This will be revealed in a report expected in the New Year.

“What we do know is that some Council staff must been aware of the extent of the pumping system failure during the height of the flooding event yet Civil Defence, the Mayor and council staff manning the phones from an increasingly panicked public seemed oblivious to the serious situation building in South Dunedin, St Kilda and St Clair. Instead, the Council Call Centre closed at 5.30PM, and Civil Defence at 11.00PM, leaving residents vulnerable and in search of consistent answers.

“I also note that there were pockets of homes in other parts of Dunedin badly affected by flooding that may be linked to flawed maintenance systems such as Kinmont Crescent in Mosgiel, Brighton and Macandrew Bay. I expect the Council to fully investigate all of those.

“The report serves only to reinforce the widespread belief that the City Council were missing in action on 3 June. It makes no recommendations on future prevention, and gives only short-term solutions in its reporting of infrastructure improvements.

“Insurance costs have reached $30 million+, some people are still unable to return to their homes five months later, and those that raised questions after the floods were deemed to be ignorant of civil defence legislation or uninformed about the state of the drains or the pumps.

“Those responsible for the protection of our city owe its people an apology. They also owe an explanation as to why civil defence and council staff did not realise South Dunedin was at risk and act to protect them and their homes.

“Why were people not evacuated as they were in Wanganui a few weeks later? Why were there not extensive sandbagging operations put underway as soon as it was realised the Portobello Pumping station was unable to operate effectively?

“Why did Council staff not realise that rain events before 3 June had saturated the ground in South Dunedin and that surface flooding was inevitable even if the pumping station had been working properly.

“The DCC knows that ground water levels in the South Dunedin Basin are high. A report last week by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment highlighting the risks just confirms what we already know and makes it more urgent for us to address.

“The Council was not on the ball on 3 June. Many residents have paid a heavy price. Dunedin deserves better” says Clare Curran
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132 Hillside Road, South Dunedin