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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Eastern suburbs on the brink

Eastern suburbs on the brink

Residents dig trenches, wait

NICOLE MATHEWSON, MARC GREENHILL AND LIV CARVILLE
Last updated 05:00 19/04/2011

Above: Bower Tavern, high tide

Civil Defence are warning quake-weary eastern suburbs to avoid contact with the contaminated flood water.

Civil Defence director of infrastructure Michael Aitken said the waterways were still contaminated with sewage and residents shovelling silt should wear water-proof gloves, gumboots and a dust mask.

He also said residents should shower immediately after any contact with the water and wash their clothes separately.

Nearly 15 millimetres of rain has fallen since Saturday and strained the quake-damaged stormwater systems in the eastern suburbs.

Civil Defence said flooding levels were less severe this morning, but sucker trucks were still removing surface water.

Emergency services last night closed roads in Bexley as water approached properties, but no homes were evacuated and all of the roads were opened this morning.

Aitken said motorists should be cautious in the flooded areas as the water may compromise affected roads and open new potholes.

Emergency workers built a stop-bank along the Avon River last night to protect homes during high tide and this morning contractors added to the existing sandbags to eliminate the risk of further flooding.

The stop-bank was erected along Avonside Dr, between Retreat Rd and Morris St, as floodwaters spilled across streets and onto properties.

High tide flooded Pleasant Point Yacht Club on the Avon River Estuary yesterday afternoon, but council crews were on site to address the problem immediately.

The next high tide is due at 5:30pm today and Civil Defence said it was monitoring the flooding threat.

Work completed last night and this morning was expected to prevent further major issues.

Aitken said flooding in the eastern suburbs was largely caused by water coming back up damaged drainage pipes.

Work would be done to fix drainage valves and clear debris from pipes, but in the meantime sandbags had been placed on top of the sumps to keep water down, he said.

Avonside resident Leanne Curtis, of advocacy group CanCERN, said the flood risk in the east was "huge".

Properties around the Avon River were waterlogged within hours of rain falling on Saturday.

"I know people who have dug big trenches to try to get the water flowing away," she said.

"If you're near the river and in the flood zone, that's the fear. I know people around the river are pretty freaked out about the concept of it coming through their houses."

The higher water table and subsided land worsened the problem, Curtis said.

Water that would not drain had to be "physically moved".

"This is one more thing that just adds to people's crap," she said.

People with homes affected by flooding have been asked to contact Civil Defence on 941 8999.

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