By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Hallam businesses say they have been left repeatedly high and dry by long-dwelling floodwaters across Centre Road and Rimfire Drive.
Most recently on Wednesday 17 November, both lanes of Centre Road were deeply submerged for three days due to overflow from the adjoining Hallam Valley flood plain.
Eclipse Security Systems owner Greg Flood said local enterprises were effectively stranded from customers and deliveries.
“Some of these small businesses have suffered really badly in the pandemic, and now they haven’t been able to get customers.”
About seven cars were drowned in floodwaters, trucks damaged and staff ferried by 4WD to get to work.
A row of stranded cars’ number plates were hung forlornly in a nearby tree during the calamity.
It’s been a case of rinse and repeat for the past dozen years, Mr Flood says – despite calls for either a levee or the raising of Centre Road.
In the meantime, housing and industrial development threatens to create more run-off.
Melbourne Water, which manages Hallam Valley floodplain, and City of Casey, which is responsible for Centre Road and its drains, have been in talks.
Melbourne Water south east waterways manager John Woodland said the “possibility” of raising the section of Centre Road was being discussed with Casey.
“We are currently investigating the design and construction of a new channel in the floodplain which will reduce the amount of time floodwaters remain on the road,” Mr Woodland said.
The water authority regularly inspects the floodplain drains, with contractors recently desilting an open channel and “jetting” the drain to “ensure it is functioning correctly”.
Casey’s city presentation manager David Richardson said the council was advocating to Melbourne Water to improve the floodplain’s drainage system.
It also sought Melbourne Water to “investigate new approaches” to protect Centre Road, Mr Richardson said.
During the emergency response, Club Hallam owner David Gaul says he witnessed a “comedy of errors” in which a worker poured petrol into a running pump.
Unsurprisingly, the machine and its operator managed to catch alight.
Mr Gaul’s brothel in the meantime was inaccessible to staff and customers for three days.
“This flood was the worst I’ve seen it in 18 years here. The Uber drivers with our girls wouldn’t come in.
“There’s been a lot of back and forth between the council and Melbourne Water but we don’t see any action.”
Meanwhile, Mr Flood was encouraged that “at least they’re both talking about it”.
“But all they’ve been doing for 13 years is talk about it.”