City of Greater Bendigo staff and contractors are working their way through more than 1,050 customer requests and other damage found following recent flash flooding, having already completed about 200 jobs.
Inspection of the road and drainage network is continuing, and more damage is expected to be identified and programmed for repair.
Since Christmas Day 2023, it is estimated approximately 304 properties have been impacted by flood waters, making it a challenging start to the year for many.
In that time, City staff have been responding to the most urgent requests across Goornong, Huntly, Heathcote and Redesdale, and some inner-city suburbs.
Chief Executive Officer Andrew Cooney said flood events on Christmas Day, January 2, and January 7 and 8 caused wide-spread damage to City infrastructure.
"There are currently no roads closed due to flood damage," Mr Cooney said.
"Immediate works were done to the Goornong-Mayreef Road near Elmore and where roads were impassable, including O’Brien’s Lane in Longlea, Axedale-Kimbolton Road in Axedale and various streets in Heathcote, we responded immediately and they were closed, at most, for 48 hours after the January 7 and 8 event.
"Wherever possible, staff did proactive drainage and pit clearing works in areas known to flood, however the rain events came close together and, in parts, brought record rainfall across a system that was already under pressure.
"A key challenge with being a city surrounded by forest is that with every rain event, leaf litter and debris gets caught in water runoff and blocks drains, even if they have just been cleared.
"We currently have approximately 40 City staff and 25 contracting staff focused on unblocking drains and fixing damaged sealed and unsealed roads.
"There are two full-time crews working in the Huntly area, who have been working across this suburb since the first rain event on Christmas Day. Their focus is on re-shaping and clearing table drains that line the roadsides.
"Both last week and this week in Redesdale we have had crews going up and down unsealed roads and grading them.
"Both the Huntly-Fosterville Road and the Avonmore-Mayreef Road near Goornong were re-built after they were washed away, and along the Epsom-Barnadown Road, a key access road to Goornong, crews have been fixing pot holes and clearing drains.
"In order to quickly make some roads safe, they have had a temporary treatment to fix damaged sections. As part of our program, crews will return to these roads to fix them in the coming months.
"Crews are also inspecting retention basins across the municipality to ensure they have not been impacted by the wet weather and pumps are working correctly.
"At this stage, we expect it will take us a further three months to complete the 850 jobs in our system relating to the recent floods, and expect more will be added as we keep inspecting local infrastructure.
"When you compare the past month to the October 2022 flood, the culmination of three flood events so close together has definitely had a more severe impact on our municipality – not just roads and drains but also our buildings.
"Several main buildings including Bendigo Town Hall, Bendigo Art Gallery, The Capital theatre, Bendigo Airport and Bendigo Stadium were impacted in some way. All of those have been made safe and aside from the Town Hall, they were all back operating very quickly.
"The City’s assets are valued at $2B and the damage was extensive. The City anticipates these three flood events have caused approximately $5M in damage. The works do put us behind when it comes to delivering our general maintenance schedule and we are considering what the longer term impacts will be on the upcoming 2024/2025 Budget.
"Where possible, we will apply for funding through the Disaster Recover Funding Arrangements, which is supported through the State and Federal governments, and other grant opportunities that come up over time.
"We thank residents for their patience as we continue to work through the many requests we have received. Our crews are on the ground and in communities, and responding as quickly as possible.
"The community’s experience and feedback shared via the recovery drop-in sessions was very valuable in guiding our work going forward. We will be holding a number of community barbeques in the coming weeks to support residents to come together and provide an update on the work staff are doing.
"We also continue to review what more the City can do to improve the resilience of our assets in the future to withstand intense weather events like we have experienced."