Relief & Recovery

December floods 2018

Relief and recovery information for December floods 2018

Support services and financial assistance is available to eligible residents impacted by floods to help meet their immediate and essential needs. Contact your council for more information.

Road closures

For detailed road closure information, check the VicTraffic smartphone app, go to traffic.vicroads.vic.gov.au, or call VicRoads on 13 11 70.

Returning home safely

  • Stay away from damaged and flooded buildings and roads until authorities advise they are safe. 
  • Driving conditions may still be hazardous due to flood damaged roads, bridges, and debris on roads - exercise caution.  
    Drive slowly, obey all road signs and never drive through floodwater. It can take just 15cm of water to float a car.

If your home or business has been flooded:

  • Check buildings for damage before you enter. 
  • Have all electrics and gas professionally tested before use.  Damaged gas or electricity supplies need to be declared safe by a qualified electrician or plumber.
  • Skin contact with floodwater and mud from floodwater can cause illness and skin infections.  If you are injured or suffer a cut during the flood or during your clean up; clean the wound and contact your doctor immediately.
  • Wear sturdy waterproof boots and rubber or leather gloves when cleaning or clearing flood damaged areas.  
  • Flooding can cause sewage to overflow inside your home. Contact with Sewage can make you sick - contaminated areas must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.  
  • Private water supplies may also be contamination from floodwater, debris and chemicals.  If your water supply tastes, looks or smells unusual, do not use it for drinking, preparing food, and do not give it to animals.
  • Be aware that wild animals like rodents, snakes or spiders may be trapped in your home, shed or garden.
  • Wastewater systems including septic tanks and their absorption area can be weakened by a flood, so do not drive or walk over them.
  • Food safety should also be considered and ALL food that has been flood damaged should be thrown away – including canned and packaged foods.
  • Medicines, stored at home and affected by flood water may now be unsafe and extreme caution should be taken in trying to salvage any medicines.
  • Mosquitoes can also breed rapidly in stagnant waters. So drain any water from containers such as plant pots, tyres, buckets, and roof gutters to control mosquitos around your home.

Insurance and floods

  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to check what your policy includes or excludes, and seek guidance on the claims process.

  • Do not be concerned if you can’t find your insurance papers. Insurers have electronic records and need only your name and address
  • Speak to your insurer before you attempt or authorise any building work, including emergency repairs, and ask for the insurer’s permission in writing. Unauthorised work may not be covered by your policy
  • Avoid turning the power on at your home if there is flooding. Have a professional conduct a thorough inspection first
  • If your home is unsafe, notify your local authorities and check with your insurance company whether you can claim temporary housing expenses.
  • Take photographs or videos of damage to property and possessions, and keep samples of materials from damaged goods, as evidence to support your claim. This will be used by your insurer to process your claim as quickly as possible
  • You can remove and discard any water or mud-damaged goods that pose a health risk, such as saturated carpets and soft furnishings, but take photos and keep samples of materials and fabrics to show the assessor
  • Keep any items that could be repaired and if in doubt speak to your insurer.
  • If you are in urgent financial need you can ask your insurer to fast track your claim and make an advance payment within five business days of you demonstrating your urgent financial need. Any advance payment may be deducted from the total value of your claim.
  • If your claim has been finalised within one month of the disaster, your insurer must give you six months from the finalisation date to ask for a review of your claim (for instance, if you think the insurer has not accurately assessed your loss), even if you have signed a release.
  • See the Insurance Council of Australia’s website Understand Insurance for more information.

Drinking water after floods

Town drinking water supply

  • Local water authorities will tell you if your town drinking water supply becomes unsafe to drink.
  • Contact your local water authority for more information.

Private water supply

  • If your area has been affected by flooding, your private water supply may be contaminated with floodwater, debris and chemicals.
  • If your water supply tastes, looks or smells unusual, do not use it for drinking, preparing food, bathing or brushing teeth, and do not give it to animals. Use bottled water. Boiling water will not make it safe to drink.
  • Shallow groundwater (for example, a well) that has been affected by flood should be considered contaminated and is not safe to drink.
  • Shallow groundwater (for example, a well) that has been affected by flood should be considered contaminated and is not safe to drink.
  • If your water is stored in an underground tank and not sealed properly it may be contaminated with floodwater, and may not be safe to drink.
  • Water sourced from roof-collected rainwater and stored in above-ground tanks or deep bores that are properly cased with an above-ground well-head should continue to be safe for use, provided the structure has not been damaged.
  • For more information see Private water sources in flood-affected areas.

Mould and your health

  • Flooding, excess moisture and pooled water can contribute to the growth of mould in your home, which may be a health risk for you and your family.
  • Large amounts of mould can cause nasal congestion, sneezing, and coughing, wheezing and respiratory infections and worsen asthma and allergic conditions.
  • The following people should avoid being present during post-flood cleaning or repair works:
  • children (under 12 years, particularly infants)
  • pregnant women
  • people over 65 years of age
  • those with weakened immune systems, allergies, severe asthma or lung diseases.
  • People feeling unwell should contact their doctor or call Nurse-On-Call on 1300 60 60 24.
  • The key to preventing mould growth is to clean up and dry out the house as quickly as possible (within 48 hours). When cleaning up, open all doors and windows to ensure good ventilation and wear shower cap, rubber gloves, boots and eye protection and a P1 or P2 face mask (available from your hardware store).
  • For information on how to safely clean up and remove mould refer to the fact sheet: After a flood: mould and your health.

Food safety

  • Flood waters can damage food by direct contact or after a power failure.
  • All food that has been flood damaged should be discarded – this includes canned and packaged foods.
  • For more information take a look at the After the flood: returning home safely fact sheet.

Septic systems after floods

During flooded or saturated absorption area conditions:

  • There is a risk that sewage will back up into your home. To minimise this risk, plug drains in the house, and weight them down with a sandbag and place a sandbag in the toilet bowl. Reduce water use until water in the absorption area is lower than the water level around the house
  • Do not open your septic tank for pumping - mud and silt may enter the tank and end up in the absorption area, and pumping out a tank that is in saturated soil may cause it to “pop out” of the ground.
  • Once floodwaters have receded:
  • If sewage has entered your home, contaminated areas must be cleaned and disinfected with household chlorine bleach. Advice on cleaning and disinfection is provided in After a flood – returning home safely fact sheet.
  • Contact the Environmental Health Officer at your local council for advice.

Animal and insect-related hazards after floods

  • When returning to a flood-affected area remember that wild animals, including rodents, snakes or spiders, may be trapped in your home, shed or garden.
  • If you have been bitten by a snake get immediate medical attention by calling triple zero (000). If you have been bitten or injured by an animal or insect seek advice from your doctor or call Nurse-On-Call on 1300 60 60 24.
  • Do not approach wild or stray animals. For advice about dealing with animals contact your local council, animal shelter or vet.
  • Remove pets and other animals that have died as soon as possible. For advice on safe disposal if animals speak to your local council or vet.
  • Mosquitoes can breed rapidly in stagnant waters. Drain any water from containers such as plant pots, tyres, buckets, and roof gutters (if blocked by leaf debris) to control mosquitos around your home.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites by wearing long, loose clothing and by regularly applying repellent (containing Picaridin or DEET) to all exposed skin. Keep mosquitoes out of your home by closing doors and windows, and repairing or sealing damaged fly screens.
  • For information about licensed snake catchers contact the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Customer Information Centre on 136 186.
  • For more information go to the Better Health Channel at: www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au

Sporting and playground equipment after floods

  • Sporting facilities and playground equipment, like swings and slides may have been contaminated during flooding.
  • Skin contact with mud from floodwater can cause illness, injury or infection.
  • People should avoid using sporting fields and playgrounds until the facilities have been cleaned, allowed to dried, and the ground cleared of any debris.
  • Play equipment should be hosed with clean water and allowed to dry before use.
  • Anyone using sporting fields or playgrounds should wash their hands thoroughly afterwards, especially prior to eating or drinking.
  • Contact your local council for more information about whether it is safe to use the Sporting facilities and playground equipment.

Wildlife and floods

  • We expect some wildlife to be seen moving away from flood waters. Motorists should watch out  for displaced animals along roadsides.
  • There is a risk that some animals may get caught in fences or other debris. Members of the public are urged to take care if attempting to help injured or distressed animals.  Improper rescue techniques by an untrained or inexperienced person can cause further distress or injury to both the animal, as well as putting the rescuer at risk.
  • Anyone seeing animals that appear caught, injured or distressed as a result of flooding, should call the Customer Service Centre on 136 186.

Pets and floods

  • Find out how to care for your pet during floods: Pets and Emergencies
  • If your pets are injured, seek veterinary treatment immediately.
  • If your pets are lost, notify your local council, microchip registry, neighbours and nearby animal shelters. You can also check social media sources (often in emergencies a site is set up to list lost and found animals).
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