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Counting the Cost of the Sydney Super Storm Clean-Up

By Madeleine Gray on July 29, 2016 in News

Photo: Franck Gazzola - @frothersgallery

Photo: Franck Gazzola – @frothersgallery

If you were around Sydney in early June, chances are you were aware that there was some serious meteorological shit going down. Over 200mm of rain poured over Sydney across a three-day period as the freak storm raged, and while Collaroy’s ‘pool-gate’ monopolised a lot of media attention, the Eastern Beaches coastline was also battered.

Bondi Beach escaped severe damage, with the exception of a lone green water tank that found its way on to the sand and some coastal walk carnage around the corner at ‘the boot’. Bronte Beach wasn’t so lucky, with the foreshore taking a serious hammering: large chunks of the beach’s retaining wall were washed away, and the public bathrooms at both ends of the beach were flooded. While no internal structural damage occurred, the brickwork outside the southern toilet block did collapse.

Further along the coast, sections of the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk were decimated. Particularly dramatic was the damage done to the section of the walk that runs along side Waverley Cemetery.

A spokesperson for Waverley Council told The Beast that while no cost and repair schedule is publicly available, funding had been approved to repair the damage.

“Council on June 21 approved funding for the Bronte Beach restoration works ($862,000), coastal walk below Hunter Park restoration ($250,000) and Waverley Cemetery coastal walk restoration ($2 million),” the spokesperson said. “National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements funding has also been applied for all works, in order to recover as many of the costs as possible.”

At this stage some repair work is still ongoing, and some areas of the coastal walk remain unsafe.
“The community can be assured that officers are working hard to reopen the damaged areas as soon as they are ready and safe,” the Council spokesperson said. “Council has also installed signage and fencing at key locations where the coastal walk has been damaged, and would like to remind the community to obey these signs.”

Further south, both Coogee and Maroubra beaches saw major sand displacement, but Coogee bore the brunt of the carnage. Many brick steps at Coogee Beach became displaced, pumice littered the shore, and the six-metre king tide smashed into and collapsed the eastern wall of the Coogee Surf Life Saving Club.

“It’s certainly the biggest catastrophe we’ve ever faced… we’ve lost all the windows, the hall, the gym is a total write-off,” Club President Mark Doepel said

Over 150 local clubbies chipped in to help clean up the wreckage, and while final numbers on the full financial cost of the storm are yet to be released, Mr Doepel said that club members “are determined to rebuild.”

According to Member for Coogee Bruce Notley Smith, the NSW Government worked with the local councils to ensure that repairs got underway promptly.

“Premier Mike Baird fast-tracked disaster declarations, so that gave local councils access to the money to get to work and fix these structures straight away,” he said.

At the time, joint NSW/Commonwealth natural disaster relief and recovery arrangements were activated for Waverley, Randwick and Woollahra Local Government Areas.