SWAMPED: The entrance to Watson’s Caravans on March 31, 2009 before it covered the red arrow and (right) the KFC South building.
SWAMPED: The entrance to Watson’s Caravans on March 31, 2009 before it covered the red arrow and (right) the KFC South building.

Boambee plea: Don't forget us

INCREASINGLY frequent flash flooding at the intersection of North Boambee Road is beginning to threaten investment and impose heavy costs and even heavier stress on local business owners.

Sydney investor George Culkoff, who owns the building occupied by Kentucky Fried Chicken, said he was in danger of losing his home if flooding problems affecting the

$1.5 million site were not solved.

“I am going to lose my tenants in November because of the flooding if the problem is not fixed,” Mr Culkoff said.

Staff at the KFC outlet were among more than 20 people rescued in SES flood boats on March 31 2009 and the premises flooded again in November.

Mr Culkoff said his home in Sydney was the security for the mortgage on the commercial property and he and his wife Vesa would ‘end up on the road’ of they lost the tenants because the property would be worth half what they had paid for it. He said the water problems had dashed his plans to consider further investment in Coffs Harbour.

Electrical contractor Paul Biddolph said he was still owed $20,000 by his insurance company for repair work on his Keona Circuit premises after the November 2009 flood.

He had to cope with two floods in 2009, although his 1988 buildings were constructed 100mm above the 1-in-100 year flood level specified by Coffs Harbour City Council.

“Something has to be done about the drainage (under the Pacific Highway) – it is a bottleneck and the water just can’t get away,” Mr Biddolph said. “The force of the water coming down from The Lakes Estate is ridiculous.

“In March (2009) it came so fast I thought it would break down our big north-west-facing roller door and you couldn’t stand up in the driveway.”

He said before the construction of The Lakes Estate subdivision that area was ‘a large belly’ – a big marshy wetland which absorbed water like a sponge.

“Now when it rains, the lakes don’t act as retention basins, the run-off water skates across the top of the lakes,” Mr Biddolph said.

“I know what has to be done – if they would dig the grass drain down another 600mm (the water) would get away (under the highway) and we would not have this problem.

Faye Watson of Watson’s Caravans said they were concerned the situation had worsened at and it was no longer just 1 in 100 year or 1 in 200 year flood events that were the problem.

“Because of development in North Boambee Valley, water is being delivered to us at a much faster speed,” she said.

“We consider it appropriate planning to fix our existing problem before further developments are approved.”

She said she and her husband Max could not sleep at night when it rained as they had to move $3-$4 million worth of caravans to higher ground when the North Boambee Road corner flooded and this took an hour and a half and had ocurred at least four times last year.

“We have become the last lake of The Lakes Estate,” Mrs Watson said.

“The water has to reach the level where it can flow over the highway before it can get away,” Mrs Watson said.

Coffs Harbour City Council staff have promised to meet on site with business owners to discuss the problems.

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