Storm Recovery Information

Mildura storm recovery

After being impacted by severe storms in November 2016, with damage to the farming sector estimated to be between $77.6 million and $156.8 million, the Commonwealth and State Governments have established a number of Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements, including:

  • Emergency Re-establishment Grants of up to $32,500 per eligible household experiencing financial hardship, who have been flood or storm-affected at their primary place of residence. The grants are available for clean-up, emergency accommodation, repairs, rebuilding (a principal place of residence), and replacing some damaged contents.
    Imapcted residents can call the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226 for more information about the support services available.
     
  • Activation through the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements for concessional low interest rate loans of up to $200,000 for primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profit bodies who have suffered direct damage or a significant loss of income. For more information contact Rural Finance on 1800 260 425 or online at www.ruralfinance.com.au.
     
  • Activation of Recovery Grants of up to $25,000 for affected primary producers, and a Community Recovery Fund of $120,000 for Mildura Rural City Council, through the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements. The $25,000 grants for primary producers will help cover the expenditure involved in clean-up and reinstatement, including for things such as salvaging crops, purchasing of fodder, repair or replacement of essential equipment and disposal of damaged goods. To apply for a Recovery Grant, primary producers can contact Rural Finance Victoria on 1800 260 425 or online at www.ruralfinance.com.au.
     
  • Disaster assistance for Mildura City Council through the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements. This financial assistance can be used to restore essential public assets, such as roads and storm water infrastructure.

 

If your crop or business has been affected

  • Agriculture Victoria has been contacting affected landholders to collect information on loss and damage to inform government on the agricultural impacts of the storm event and the types of support that is required.
  • The storm affected a number of industries including losses in many horticultural crops and broad-acre cropping.
  • At least 450 properties are being assessed as potentially storm impacted across the Mildura, Red Cliffs, Ouyen and Millewa areas. 
  • At this stage assessments are continuing and it is too early to tell the full extent of the damage.
  • If you do not have a Property Identification Code for your farming business or if you want to talk to someone about storm damage to your farm, contact Agriculture Victoria on 136 186.
  • Regional Development Victoria (RDV) has also been contacting businesses in areas impacted by the storm event, collecting information on loss and damage and to inform government of the economic impacts to business and industry.
  • If you want to talk to someone about storm damage to your business, contact the RDV Mildura office on (03) 5051 2000.

 

Insurance considerations

  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to check what your policy includes or excludes, and seek guidance on the claims process.
  • Do not be concerned if you can’t find your insurance papers. Insurers have electronic records and need only your name and address
  • Speak to your insurer before you attempt or authorise any building work, including emergency repairs, and ask for the insurer’s permission in writing. Unauthorised work may not be covered by your policy
  • Avoid turning the power on at your home if there is flooding. Have a professional conduct a thorough inspection first
  • If your home is unsafe, notify your local authorities and check with your insurance company whether you can claim temporary housing expenses.
  • Take photographs or videos of damage to property and possessions, and keep samples of materials from damaged goods, as evidence to support your claim. This will be used by your insurer to process your claim as quickly as possible
  • You can remove and discard any water or mud-damaged goods that pose a health risk, such as saturated carpets and soft furnishings, but take photos and keep samples of materials and fabrics to show the assessor
  • Keep any items that could be repaired and if in doubt speak to your insurer.
  • If you are in urgent financial need you can ask your insurer to fast track your claim and make an advance payment within five business days of you demonstrating your urgent financial need. Any advance payment may be deducted from the total value of your claim.
  • If your claim has been finalised within one month of the disaster, your insurer must give you six months from the finalisation date to ask for a review of your claim (for instance, if you think the insurer has not accurately assessed your loss), even if you have signed a release.

See the Insurance Council of Australia’s website Understand Insurance for more information. 

If your property has been damaged

Before going onto your property consider the following:

  • Gas or electricity supplies may be damaged – these may need to be confirmed safe by a qualified electrician.
  • The structural integrity of your home may be affected and weakened– this needs to be declared safe by a qualified building surveyor.
  • When cleaning up wear protective clothing (such as long pants and full sleeves) when returning home to your property. Make sure you also wear sturdy footwear and heavy-duty work gloves.  Wash your hands after removing contaminated clothing and articles.
  • Hazardous materials may include asbestos. Asbestos fibres can cause health problems if they are breathed in.   
  • Contact your local council’s environmental health officer for enquiries or concerns regarding the safe removal or disposal of asbestos.
  • For information on asbestos visit the Better Health Channel website:

 

After a severe storm

  • Check your home and property for damage.
  • Keep clear of damaged buildings, power lines and trees.
  • Be aware of road hazards such as floodwater, debris and damaged roads or bridges.
  • Do not drive through affected areas unless it is necessary.

 

Septic tanks

  • Most septic tanks should not be structurally damaged by storms as they are below ground.
  • However if you suspect your septic tank has been damaged, do not use or flush your toilet until you know that the septic tank system and associated pipes are intact.
  • If you suspect your system has been physically damaged, contact a licensed plumbing practitioner to have it assessed.

 

Mosquitos

  • Mosquitoes can breed rapidly in stagnant waters. Drain any water from containers such as plant pots, tyres, buckets, and roof gutters (if blocked by leaf debris) to control mosquitoes around your home.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites by wearing long, loose clothing and by regularly applying repellent (containing Picaridin or DEET) to all exposed skin. Keep mosquitoes out of your home by closing doors and windows, and repairing or sealing damaged fly screens.
  • For more information go to www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/campaigns/beat-the-bite

 

Power outages

  • The Department of Health and Human Services will work with energy providers to ensure those customers dependent on power are being checked on.
  • People on life support who require access to power for medical reasons should continue to enact their personal contingency plan.
  • People should speak to their doctor if they have any concerns.
  • In a life threatening emergency, contact Triple Zero (000).

What to do if you're experiencing a power outage

What if I am feeling unwell or need medical assistance and I have no power?

Speak to your doctor if you any concerns, or contact Nurse on Call on 1300 606 024. In a life threatening emergency, call Triple Zero (000).

What do I do with refrigerated or frozen food during a power outage?

Food safety is important during a power failure. Cold or frozen food must be kept cold (less than 5 degrees) for it to be safe to consume. Once cold or frozen food is no longer cold to touch, it can be kept and eaten for up to four hours and then it must be thrown away or, if it is raw meat, it should be cooked and eaten.

During a power failure:

  • Move food from the fridge to the freezer.
  • If available, put bagged ice under food packages and trays stored in freezers and fridges if the power failure lasts more than one hour.
  • Place an insulating blanket over cold or frozen food where possible.
  • Only open the fridge and freezer doors when absolutely necessary. This will keep the food and air temperature colder for longer.
  • Eat hot food within 4 hours of it being heated or throw it away.
  • If power is restored when frozen food is still frozen solid the food is safe.

Portable generators

Using portable generators and alternative power supply options can allow for normal activities to continue; however it is important to use them safely.

If not used safely portable generators can lead to:

  • carbon monoxide poisoning from the engine exhaust.
  • electric shock or electrocution.
  • fire.

Householders must follow the directions supplied with the generator to ensure safe use.

Do not use a portable generator indoors. This includes inside a garage, carport, basement, crawlspace or other enclosed or partially enclosed area, even with ventilation.

Opening doors and windows will not prevent carbon monoxide building up in the home. It is a good idea to install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms in your home to alert you when carbon monoxide levels pose a health risk. Test the battery frequently and replace when needed.

Factsheets can be found here (translated into 20 languages):

What should I do if my septic tank has been affected by the power outage?

  • Until you are certain your septic system is working properly, minimise your water use.
  • If you suspect your wastewater system has been affected by power outage, contact a licensed plumbing practitioner or service agent to have it assessed.
  • Do not enter the pump chamber: gases from decaying sewage inside pump chambers are toxic and can be fatal.
  • Septic tanks may be pumped out by a licenced wastewater removal contractor if deemed necessary, for example if blockages have occurred. However, the septic tank must be filled with clean water to prevent the tank from lifting, moving or rolling.

What if I have pets that needing looking after?

  • You should initially seek assistance from friends and family. If this is not possible then you may wish to contact any local Animal Aid resources.