Counting the cost
THE Clarence Valley is expected to be declared a disaster zone today as authorities, farmers and families count the cost of the second major flood to hit the Clarence in 12 months.
Clarence Valley Council is seeking $1.3 million from the NSW Government's Natural Disaster Fund for damage to roads, bridges and levees.
Mayor Richie Williamson said the application was made to the Ministry of Police and Emergency Services at 10.30am yesterday and he was expecting the area to be declared a disaster zone either late yesterday or this morning.
Notification of natural disaster declarations for the Bellingen, Byron, Kyogle, Lismore and Richmond Valley local government Areas came through late yesterday.
"This event has certainly given us some more challenges early in the new year and the next few days aren't looking to good ... the Bureau of Meteorology emailed me and there is a 70% chance of another major flood," Cr Williamson said.
Meanwhile, the self-described shadow special minister of state, Steve Whan, described Premier Barry O'Farrell's "failure" to declare the North Coast a disaster zone as "a baffling display of sloppiness".
"A timely declaration of a natural disaster is vital in allowing local councils to assess damage, clean up debris and fix roads and other infrastructure," Mr Whan said.
"The Premier needs to step in, talk to some local mayors first hand to hear how much damage there is - and make the declaration.
"I am aware this threshold has been well-and-truly met - and the information confirming it was available mid-last week. The initial damage bill totals at least $7 million and will climb further as water recedes from roads and bridges.
But Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mike Gallacher hit back, saying the opposition was in no position to criticise considering its record while in government when it failed to make natural disaster declarations on more than one occasion.
"As Mr Whan would be well aware, natural disaster declarations cannot be made until an application has been received from affected local government areas."