Mud, sludge and ruined roads in River Murray flood wake

Extra power is being connected at Morgan Sporting Complex for locals forced from homes and struggling to find a place to stay in caravans, as River Murray floodwater gradually recedes to leave thick layers of sludge, household debris and ruined roads.

Feb 08, 2023, updated Feb 08, 2023
Muddy stains show how far River Murray flood water is falling at Morgan. Photo: Facebook

Muddy stains show how far River Murray flood water is falling at Morgan. Photo: Facebook

When Mid Murray Mayor Simone Bailey met Morgan residents through a Mid Murray Suicide Prevention Network coffee morning several weeks ago, some told how they were still being forced to live in Burra and Adelaide after the Cadell Oval was inundated.

The network sourced $10,000 to pay for new power connections to ensure locals can live in caravans at the club grounds near their homes and shacks, as insurers begin the long task of assessing homes filled with mud, broken windows, mould and missing walls.

Bailey said receding floodwaters are revealing the extent of damage, with sections of Hunter Road at Mannum “like playing leapfrog, there’s a bit of bitumen and then it would be four metres you need to leap to the next”.

“It’s devastating the damage that has been left,” she said. As the emergency levee built in the middle of the Mannum main street is removed, the state of unlucky shops on the river side, which were inundated during peak flows, is revealed.

“There is just mess: it’s dirty, sludgy,” she said.

“We cleaned up Purnong Road (at Mannum) and it took one and a half days to clean two kilometres. When you think about that, we have at least 150km of our roads to assess, that’s a lot of hours work ahead.”

Purnong Road is home to the Mannum Caravan Park and some permanent residential properties overlooking the river, with Bailey saying early assessments of its condition are positive and the council is “just waiting for the corners to dry off”.

Logs and debris left in the aftermath of River Murray flooding. Photo: Facebook

Premier Peter Malinauskas announced a $60 million road repair package for River Murray communities on the weekend,along with tax relief for residents and businesses whose properties and cars were destroyed or substantially damaged by flooding.

The State Emergency Service estimates almost 1,200 kilometres of road and almost 3300 properties across the state, including more than 360 principal homes, may have been impacted by floodwaters.

Swan Reach and Bow Hill are still more like ghost towns as most shack owners and residents are still unable to stay in the region, their properties either still flooded or badly damaged.

Bailey said few locals joined recent suicide prevention network meetings in the towns as “about 85 per cent of the people have had to get out of the area because there’s no accommodation”.

Debris left on the River Murray banks as flood water recedes. Photo: Facebook

The key Goyder Highway near Morgan reopened this morning to all vehicles in both directions except those that are oversize and overmass, after being closed since December 30 when a temporary levee was built.

A Transport Department statement said the latest inspection and strength test showed the road was safe, with 40km per hour speed restriction and signage warning drivers to keep away from soft sections on the road shoulder.

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Kingston Road near Moorook was reopened to light vehicles on January 25, while the department said another major transport link between Loxton and Berri in the Riverland, Bookpurnong Road, was likely to open during the next week.

Cleaning is completed on Bookpurnong Road in anticipation of further road and bridge assessments both today and tomorrow.

“Depending on the results of these assessments and pavement strength testing, Bookpurnong Road may be reopened to light vehicles within the next week,” an Infrastructure and Transport Department spokesperson said.

“While recent visual inspections have showed the road surface to be in better condition than first expected, some minor works will still need to be undertaken before the road can be reopened.”

Under the government’s new tax relief measures, homeowners whose principal places of residence was substantially damaged or destroyed will be eligible for Stamp Duty relief of up to $48,830 on the purchase of a new home.

The 2022-23 Land Tax liabilities for business properties and long-term residential rentals that are substantially damaged or destroyed will also be waived.

Holiday rental properties are eligible for Land Tax relief where an owner can demonstrate a loss of bookings and income due to the property being substantially damaged or destroyed due to the flood.

However, full-time private holiday homes are not be eligible.

The Premier said refunds will be provided where 2022-23 Land Tax liabilities have already been paid.

Stamp Duty relief on vehicles purchased to replace one destroyed or lost in the flood is worth up to $2,816 on buying a non-commercial vehicle and $2,127 for a commercial vehicle.

Falling River Murray flood water is leaving sludge and damage in its wake near Mannum. Photo: Facebook

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