Aerial shot of Murwillumbah taken on April 1, 2017.
Aerial shot of Murwillumbah taken on April 1, 2017. Tweed Shire Council

To build or not to rebuild? That is the question

THE voluntary relocation of some homes and businesses in flood-ravaged South Murwillumbah is under review in the wake of the worst flood on record to hit the shire.

Tweed Shire Council Mayor Katie Milne said discussion was needed over the feasibility of rebuilding some destroyed homes and businesses in parts of South Murwillumbah - labelled "ground zero" by some - following the March 30 deluge that claimed the lives of six people.

The issue was raised at a business forum in Murwillumbah on Friday, attended by more than 200 business owners, some of whom have lost everything.

Cr Milne said council needed to investigate ways to minimise the impact of flooding in the worst- affected areas in the future.

"We are going to be looking at how we can minimise the impacts of what happened in that particular area of South Murwillumbah," Cr Milne said.

"It is a flow path that needs to be kept open, otherwise the whole town will be severely affected.

"We are looking at what options we have to keep it safer in there; we are looking at potential voluntary house purchases, extending that scheme, and trying to get businesses and lands to potentially relocate if they possibly can.

"We are asking you to consider moving to higher ground if at all possible, if you are looking at rebuilding, please.

"This is the normal flow path of Murwillumbah. We can't really do anything about this but consider what other options we have - we are looking at trying to get some higher ground for you."



Aerial shot of South Murwillumbah taken on April 1, 2017.
Aerial shot of South Murwillumbah taken on April 1, 2017. South Murwillumbah was one of the hardest hit areas in the Tweed. Tweed Shire Council

Council general manager Troy Green told the Tweed Daily News the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage had a voluntary purchase scheme to cover residential homes built in flood-prone areas.

However, he said currently, the scheme would only cover four existing homes in the area, but was calling for the program to be expanded in line with council's 2009 flood study, which would take in a further 29 houses.

"There are properties in South Murwillumbah that get hit time and time again," Mr Green said.

"When it was all developed in the early days, the early settlers weren't privy to the history of flooding, nor did they have the sophisticated flood modelling that we have today.

"The Office of Environment and Heritage have this flood mitigation measure to take high-impact houses out of the floodplain.

"They also have, depending where the home is, a policy provision where houses can be raised and that's where you see a lot of houses have been raised.

"But it only applies currently to residential homes. What we need to do is review that fund study and, if there is merit, push for it to apply to some businesses.

"It wouldn't apply to every commercial area because you wouldn't want to close down your whole CBD, but there are industrial spots in the floodplain that may benefit everyone if they were able to return to a floodplain."