Climate change affecting disaster response plans

FLUSH: Water gushed downstream through Barongarook Creek after about 140mm of rain fell in Colac last week. This series of photos shows water making its way downstream to Lake Colac, which is glistening with water two years after it was completely dry. The increased water encouraged ducks to patrol the city’s creeks enjoying themselves on Friday.

Two years ago, Lake Colac was dry and the district’s Black Saturday bushfire was just a month away from ravaging 1300 hectares through Weerite-Pomborneit.

Fast forward two years and Colac Otway Shire Council has encountered torrential rain, floods and landslips, with Lake Colac glistening with water.

Council chief Rob Small said the effects of climate change meant the region’s emergency response personnel needed to be ready for an array of potential disasters.

He said he was pleased with the council’s response to wild weather that punished the region late last week.

“I think that we can predict that given the impact of climate change, it creates astonishing issues,” Mr Small said.

“It has been interesting to hear climatologists talk about what is happening in Queensland,” he said.

“We can expect that to happen more.

“One of the issues being a New Zealander is confronting earthquakes and tsunamis.

“You would say that the chances are low that it would happen here but we have to be prepared in our emergency preparations to respond to a range of things.”

Mr Small said the council’s Cosworks team responded to damaged and wet roads after more than 100 millimetres of rain fell in Colac last week, with council staff advising coastal residents and businesses that were inundated with water.

The wet weather wreaked havoc on neighbouring councils’ roads.

Corangamite Shire Council closed 17 roads on Friday, among which was Foxhow-Cundare Road.

Surf Coast Shire Council closed 12 roads on Friday, including Kildean Road at Winchelsea, with water afflicting Cressy Road and Prices Lane.

The heavy rain increased bacterial levels at the mouth of Erskine River at Lorne.

The council advised people against swimming at the popular spot until bacterial levels dropped.

The council has installed warning signs and will test the water throughout the week.

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