Flood damage blamed on rainforest planting
FLOOD damage to homes in a small creek-side neighbourhood has been blamed on a beautification project initiated by Sarina Shire Council in the early 1990s.
Residents are now calling on Mackay Regional Council to remove the rainforest planted almost 25 years ago on the bank of Plane Creek and return the area to a floodplain.
When Cyclone Debbie swept through at the end of March, it brought with it heavy rain that caused Plane Creek to flood.
Houses on Sichter Street, Matthews Street and Maudsleys Road were inundated and an access road destroyed as it collapsed into the creek.
Long-time Sarina resident Paul Wright said it never would have happened if the rainforest wasn't there.
"Water used to spread out and go around the corner, north towards the leagues club, then east towards the dam,” Mr Wright said.
"It used to come under the bridge and then drop because there was a big wide floodplain.
"Now she goes straight through Sichter Street because it can't turn, it can't drop.”
Mr Wright, who moved to Sarina in 1949, said once the trees were planted as part of a Green Corps project, gravel and rocks built up on the western bank of the creek, which forced the water higher and slowly eroded the eastern bank.
Mackay Regional Council acknowledged it was aware of the issue and was investigating options to address the damage which occurred at Sichter Street.
However, development services director Gerard Carlyon said the council wouldn't take action until it received detailed engineering examinations and negotiated with the Queensland Reconstruction Authority about disaster funding.
Mr Wight wasn't alone in his concerns. Sarina-based councillor Martin Bella said he'd received at least a dozen direct complaints, plus many more in conversations.
He agreed something needed to be done and likened the tension placed on Plane Creek by the rainforest as similar to "putting your thumb on a hose”.
"You don't need to remove the whole thing (rainforest), but if you took out about 20m on the bend it should be enough to ease the pressure,” Mr Bella said.
"The first half of the problem, removing the trees, is cheap, but rehabilitating the other side of the bank will be the expensive part.”