Community & Business

3 April, 2024

Action needed to stop Ray Road flooding

RESIDENTS living at the Mareeba Airport end of Ray Road are calling for immediate action by the council after their properties were again flooded during a storm that lashed the town last week, dumping around 130mm of rain in just a few hours.

Images taken by resident Lisa Teece shows the inundation of their Ray Road property for the fourth time since mid-December.
Images taken by resident Lisa Teece shows the inundation of their Ray Road property for the fourth time since mid-December.

Some property owners were forced to hurriedly sandbag their homes to stop the water from inundating their living areas, while others stuffed towels under the doors as they were flooded for the fourth time since Cyclone Jasper.

Most of the residents have lived on Ray Road for many years and say it was rare to see that level of flooding before the aviation industrial precinct was developed at the bottom end of the airport.

They believe the drain created as part of the development is higher than the ground around it, forcing water to surge into their properties rather than spill into the drain and be carried away via Atherton Creek.

Resident Lisa Teece said she “cringes” every time a big storm comes or there is heavy rain, with red muddy water inundating their property and flooding through their shed at least four times since Cyclone Jasper hit in mid-December.

Last Tuesday night, she had to stuff towels under the doors to stop the water from coming into their living area.

“We have lived there for seven years and have only ever since this type of flooding maybe once or twice before but now every time we get a decent downpour, the water rising so fast that within minutes the water is lapping at your doors,” she said.

“The clean-up of red silt each time is a job in itself let alone seized pumps, pools inundated, items washed away and damage to property with some properties having this red water go through the inside of their house.”

Nearby resident Paul Murray says he has spoken to council officers on several occasions about the flooding, with a council vehicle seen in the vicinity on Tuesday night checking out the situation.

“They come out every time and have a look, but I have told them what I think needs to be done to force the water back into the drain that’s there,” he said.

“It’s not rocket science and I think it could be easily fixed if that drain was working and the other drain across the road which is overgrown and, I believe, is on land owned by SunWater, was cleaned out.”

Mr Murray says he has been forced to pay $200 to have his pool cleaned out after red, muddy water inundated it four times since the start of the year.

The Express also understands a local farmer may seek legal action against the council over the loss of soil that has washed away from his land and lost crops.

Late last week, Mareeba Shire Council confirmed an investigation into the matter was underway.

“Council acknowledges the concerns raised by residents regarding the recent flooding incidents around Ray Road, Mareeba and wishes to reassure the community that an investigation into the matter has been initiated,” a spokesperson said.

“The region has experienced exceptional rainfall since late 2023, leading to heavily saturated ground conditions and significant stormwater runoff.”

The spokesperson acknowledged that there had been issues with drainage in the Ray Road area for years, and council has consistently worked on upgrades over the past two decades.

But council rejected any suggestion that any “recent modifications to the drainage network in the affected location” had exacerbated flash flooding in the area.

“Initial assessments suggest that council’s drainage network is functioning normally,” the spokesperson said.

“In the short term, council plans to conduct minor maintenance to clear silt accumulation at culvert inlets and outlets. Comprehensive silt removal from table drains is scheduled post the wet season.

“Furthermore, council is set to begin an updated drainage study for this area, which will include a review of the previous 2004 study to help identify factors contributing to the present drainage issues and to determine if there are any feasible mitigation strategies.

“Council is aware of observations regarding water flow from large areas of private property into the drainage network. This aspect will be carefully considered in the upcoming drainage study to understand its impact without making premature conclusions.”


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