The Victorian Government has today announced a $351 million package to give financial support to regional communities hit by flooding over the past week.
The package will focus on fixing roads, rebuilding bridges and culverts - particularly in the Western, Hume and Loddon Mallee regions, as well as housing reconstruction.
It adds to Federal financial assistance announced yesterday by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, which is available to those in flood-hit regions in Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. That takes the form of the Disaster Recovery Allowance, available via Services Australia.
The Victorian package includes $165 million for an ‘emergency road repair blitz’ to fix potholes, asphalting and repairing road surfaces, as well as larger-scale works like rebuilding roads and bridges.
Up to $15 million will deliver support with housing, health and wellbeing, financial and legal counselling alongside practical assistance with accessing grants and completing paperwork.
An investment of $6 million will station ‘Community Recovery Officers’ in affected local government areas (LGAs) to help identify the recovery needs of individuals and families.
A further $15 million will be dedicated to boosting the state’s emergency management authorities, while a $150 million ‘Victorian Flood Recovery Management Plan’ will provide targeted, immediate cleanup assistance in the worst-affected areas.
For those hardest hit, a ‘Personal Hardship Assistance Program’ will provide up to $42,250 for uninsured properties, helping to pay for cleanup, repairs, rebuilding and replacing household contents.
“There isn’t a second to waste as we begin recovery in flood-affected communities – whether it’s support for households, clean-ups or local roads, we’ll deliver the support Victorians need,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.
“There is a significant job ahead of us but we’re equal to it – I know that all levels of government will keep working together to get this job done.”
The package comes as Queensland-based banking and insurance company Suncorp (ASX: SUN) today confirmed that it has received approximately 1,000 claims in total relating to flooding in Australia’s southeast, but warned the numbers are expected to increase over the coming days.
According to Suncorp, the majority of the claims are in Victoria as a result of the widespread rain and flooding experienced in the state.
Large parts of the country remain under emergency warnings for flooding, sparked by days of heavy rain resulting in hundreds of people having to be rescued from floodwaters.
Though floodwater receded in some areas over the weekend, other regions were not so lucky - particularly in Victoria’s north where flood levels are yet to peak.
As reported by the ABC, conditions appear to have stabilised in the regional hubs of Echuca and Shepparton in Victoria, but authorities are still warning the crisis could last for weeks.
The Victorian Government says that since the beginning of the flood emergency, 509 roads have been closed, and crews have undertaken more than 500 inspections of properties.
10,000 potholes have also been fixed already as part of the state’s cleanup efforts, while 20 landslips have been attended to by emergency services personnel.
Two men have died during the ongoing disaster - a 71-year-old in Rochester, Victoria on Saturday and a 46-year-old just south of Bathurst, NSW last week.
With more rain forecast in the coming days, the state government says its focus is on making key roads usable and safe for emergency services and freight, so vital supplies can reach affected communities as quickly as possible.
Suncorp CEO Steve Johnston has encouraged all customers with claims from the rain and flooding event to lodge them as soon as it is safe to do so.
“Customers can lodge their claims online for any of our Suncorp Group insurance brands, including AAMI, Apia, Shannons and Suncorp Insurance,” Johnston said.
“Our teams are in place to receive claims and our mobile Customer Support Teams and assessors stand ready to be deployed into affected areas once the water has receded and they can safely access the impacted communities.
“We are closely monitoring the situation as it unfolds and with further adverse weather predicted and some river systems still yet to peak, we urge everyone to focus on remaining safe.”
Shares in Suncorp are down 1.30 per cent to $10.63 per share at 10.51am AEDT.
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