Parkes Council applies to government to declare storm supercell a natural disaster

MAIN STREET: The sight of Clarinda Street, opposite the Coles carpark, during the flash flooding caused by a storm supercell on Saturday afternoon. Some areas had 50mm-80mm of rain in 20 minutes. Photo: Jas McGuire
MAIN STREET: The sight of Clarinda Street, opposite the Coles carpark, during the flash flooding caused by a storm supercell on Saturday afternoon. Some areas had 50mm-80mm of rain in 20 minutes. Photo: Jas McGuire

Parkes Shire Council will be applying for a Natural Disaster Declaration to assist with the town's recovery following Saturday's destructive storm supercell.

Council crews, police, Lachlan SES and Essential Energy responded quickly to a number of recorded incidents across the Parkes Shire after a storm supercell caused significant damage on Saturday afternoon.

It dumped up to 100mm of rain in under an hour and produced damaging winds of 158km/hr.

"The rainfall intensity that we experienced was greater than a one-in-100-year event and when you consider the amount of drains that were blocked by hail and other debris, the flooding event would well exceed a one-in-100-year event," Parkes Shire Mayor Ken Keith OAM said.

"The heavy rain, hail and strong winds caused widespread damage across the shire. My thoughts are with everyone who was affected during the storm, including property and business owners."

In a storm management response from council released on Wednesday morning, Cr Keith said they will be applying for a Natural Disaster Declaration to assist with recovery works and insurance claims.

"Our community is resilient, and once again over the last few days we have seen evidence of this with everyone out and about helping each other," he said.

"A big thank you to our emergency services who worked tirelessly to assist residents and business owners after the event, including our local police, Essential Energy, the Lachlan SES and staff from Parkes Shire Council."

Council's Director of Infrastructure Andrew Francis said the Parkes Shire has been collecting rain data from the MacArthur Street rain station for 132 years (1889-2012).

"The Parkes Shire has received an average of 559mm over 66 rain days annually," he said.

"However, over the last 29 years - while the average annual rainfall measured at the Parkes Airport has seen a slight increase in yearly average rain to 614mm - we have seen a significant decrease in the number of rain days, reducing by nearly half to 35 annual rain days.

"This shows that rain events are becoming less frequent but more intense.

"The weekend's rain event can be described as greater than a one-in-100-year event.

"Our design of urban storm water systems is standardised by the Bureau of Meteorology's Australian Rainfall and Runoff Guidelines and is designed for up to the one-in-100-year event.

"However, we know based on the data that we need to be continually improving our system which was originally designed in the 1960s."

Mr Francis said council has a 'Four-Pronged Approach' with an emphasis on:

  • Ongoing maintenance - council has recently upgraded the stormwater network along Victoria Street.
  • Capture, detain or divert major flows - an example of this is the work that has recently been completed at Pac Park.
  • Extend and upsize the above ground and underground network - such as the upgrades of detention basins and upsizing major drainage infrastructure, including in Bogan Street.
  • Improve Planning and Development Controls - council is currently working with new developers to decrease the impact of intense storm events and council has committed $80,000 from its existing 2020/21 budgeted funds for a driveway, kerb and gutter interface improvement program. The program will see council officers work with landowners to design and construct new, compliant kerb-to-property-boundary sections of driveways that will appropriately exclude the natural flow of stormwater from the property and keep it within the roadway as it is designed.

Mr Francis said council endeavours to manage urban stormwater according to the principles of best practice to reduce impacts on waterway health, minimise stormwater flooding and provide an alternate water source.

Parkes residents are encouraged to share their rainfall and stormwater data with Parkes Shire Council to assist them in planning for effective stormwater management.

People can follow this link to record their rainfall and share any photos from Parkes Shire storm events: https://airtable.com/shryzSL75zOur65Hs

To read more about council's stormwater management visitwww.parkes.nsw.gov.au.

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