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Flood chaos – drivers stranded as road stays open

A FLOODED road appears to not have been formally shut until at least three and a half hours after a woman was rescued from her trapped car at Middle Tarwin last Thursday.
Three hours after the first rescue, another driver entered the flooded Tarwin River on the Buffalo-Tarwin Lower Road, and was rescued by local farmers and the Police Airwing helicopter from Melbourne.
VicRoads said signs closing the road were erected on both sides of the flooded road by mid morning. However that time clashes with times given by a nearby resident and Fish Creek CFA captain Mick Dorling.
The resident, Tania Eygenraam, said no signs were in place by 11.34am when she alerted South Gippsland Shire Council to the flood, despite informing VicRoads of the danger at 8.24am.
Mr Dorling said signs were erected half an hour after the CFA received the call to the second emergency at 11.25am. By then, the time was nearly 12pm.
Council crews inspected the road after being notified of the flood by police, but did not close the road because it is a VicRoads’ road and council did not have the authority to shut it.
Ms Eygenraam said council officers should have closed the road earlier.
“Isn’t life more important than the bureaucracy and red tape that goes on?” she said.
VicRoads acting regional director Brendan Pauwels said VicRoads was notified of water over the Buffalo-Tarwin Lower Road around 7.40am and posted the closure on its website at that time.
“Contractors were immediately sent out to inspect the site and set up signs to close the road,” he said.
“One approach to the floodwater had closure signs in place shortly after crews arrived, but extra time was needed to close the other approach to the floodwater site, due to many other nearby roads also being impacted by water, making access difficult.
“Signs on both sides of the floodwater were in place by mid morning.”
Council’s operations manager Fred Huitema said council crews diverted traffic until VicRoads arrived.
Mr Dorling urged drivers to take responsibility for their own actions.
“Common sense went out the window when you see how deep it was because the posts were under water,” he said.
Tarwin Lower CFA captain Robb Lawrie, who oversaw the first rescue, said a woman was airlifted by helicopter from her car last year after becoming stranded by flood at the same location.
“The problem is that people do not realise the force of the water,” he said.
When the woman was rescued last Thursday, water was over the seats of her car.
Mr Pauwels said VicRoads urged all road users not to drive through any flooded roads, even if signs were not in place.
“The nature of flooding is that it can often be sudden and severe, so water may be over the road before crews have had a chance to place road closure signs on site,” he said.
“For your own safety it is important that you don’t drive on roads covered with water.”
The State Government last week announced $700,000 to repair 1.36km of the Buffalo-Tarwin Lower Road.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=8290

Posted by on Aug 27 2013. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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