Melbourne’s Maribyrnong flood victims say: ‘Clear this sh*t up’
Residents of flood-ravaged streets a short walk from Melbourne’s CBD still live among the ruins of their shattered lives, days after the water receded.
On Tuesday, Maribyrnong victims of last Thursday’s flood began to lose their cool amid claims they had been abandoned by their municipality.
Downstream from the Anglers Tavern, which itself was consumed by the Maribyrnong River last week, Oakland Street residents are awakened by the stench of mud and despair.
Anita Najdovski stands in front of her home on Oakland Street – just 5 miles from Melbourne’s CBD
Road to Ruin: Maribyrnong Riverside Streets Remain Covered in Trash
Jim and Helen help clean up Oakland Street. They find it annoying that the street is still destroyed days after the floods have subsided
Residents on adjacent streets are no better off, with streets of the once prosperous suburb now resembling a seedy Third World ghetto.
As Maribyrnong City Council workers armed with high-pressure hoses quickly sweep the muddy streets, the median strip remains piled with rotting garbage and smashed household items.
Heavy rainfall combined with a saturated catchment area raised the Maribyrnong peak at 4.18 meters high, inundating more than 100 properties in the municipality’s low-lying tidal area.
Residents accuse the municipality of leaving them to fend for themselves in the mud.
Antony Nguyen has lived on Oakland Street for 15 years.
On Tuesday, most of his family’s belongings were piled up outside his home and along the sidewalk.
While neighbors who were busy with their own cleanup worries helped him with the task, Mr Nguyen said it was a matter of ‘every man for himself’.
‘We have not received anything from the government. We have not seen anyone from the municipality. They have been too busy with the main lane and getting the road in order,” he told the Daily Mail Australia.
Maribyrnong is just north of Melbourne’s CBD
Antony Nguyen’s house has been destroyed by the floods. He now has to barricade himself inside at night for fear of burglary by looters
Oakland Street in Maribyrnong remains a garbage-covered stench hole days after floodwaters subsided
Residents had been told trucks would come on Monday to clean up the mess, but when they showed up, they only took the trash cans with them.
“Somehow they started cleaning up somewhere, but I don’t know where. Not on my street,” Mr. Nguyen said.
Down the street, Anita Najdovski worked to clear a path for a tow truck.
While her home was spared much of the destruction her neighbors endured, her three cars, including a vintage Corvette, were all destroyed.
Ms Najdovski said she was frustrated by the municipality’s reluctance to contact those affected by the floods.
“Every morning it’s a slap in the face. Must see this crap. It’s like Beirut,” she told the Daily Mail Australia.
Ms Najdovski said she would have brought in her own container on Saturday if the municipality had not assured that the damage would be fixed.
‘Monday morning they did our baking because it was baking day. That’s the only time we’ve seen the council,” she said. “It’s crazy. I could not believe it. Because the rates here are huge. We pay for everything and when you need them they are not there.’
Neighbor ‘George’ assesses damage to Oakland Street
What’s left of a vintage Corvette parked in an Oakland Street garage?
The remains of destroyed homes spew out onto the Oakland Street footpath
Residents claimed, while local politicians and councilors promised swift action immediately after the disaster, it was “all for show.”
“I know it’s all part of them. Saying this is going to happen… but it’s all about the publicity,” said resident Zac.
“I don’t expect much from them, but all I want is for them to clean this shit up.”
The pile of junk continues to attract thieves and opportunistic ‘scumbags’ to the area.
While residents claim they don’t mind people sorting through and removing their muddy mess, some people use the area to dump their own trash.
“They take what they want and dump their own stuff,” Ms Najdovski said.
Meanwhile, looters continue to loot what has not been destroyed by the floodwaters.
Mr Nguyen said the number of marauding looters descending on the affected area was a major concern.
Looters and collectors in ‘Steptoe and Son’ style have gathered on the streets of Maribyrnong
The scenes around Oakland Street aren’t much better, with mountains of trash piled up along roads
Flemington Racecourse was saved by a large wall built around it in 2007
“Yesterday there were so many on the street. They started jumping fences. My neighbor’s house was robbed yesterday morning. They go into the houses,’ he said.
The looting has become so bad that residents are now forced to defend their properties themselves.
‘I actually had to barricade myself inside at night. I moved my car back to the gate to block it and I push things against the front door. My family is terrified,” Mr Nguyen said.
While most residents in the area take out specific flood insurance, some hapless residents who didn’t have lost everything.
“I renovated my entire house less than a year ago. All brand new furniture,” Mr. Nguyen said. ‘You are never overinsured. Always under. Who would have thought such a thing could happen?’
Maribyrnong Mayor Anthony Tran said the municipality is working hard to help flood victims.
“We understand how much our community relies on us and we are throwing all available resources into the field to complete the cleanup as quickly and efficiently as possible,” he told Daily Mail Australia.
“Hard waste collection is now in earnest, with trucks driving through the flood-ravaged streets collecting a significant amount of materials for sorting and proper disposal.”
Cr Tran said there would be more than one sweep through the area to collect all water damaged items.
“Residents can rest assured that we won’t stop until it’s done,” he said.
Residents had no choice but to litter the footpaths of Maribyrnong for a long time. to stack
The inside of a new Audi, which was engulfed by floods in Maribyrnong last week
Mud and trash are scattered on Maribyrnong’s hiking trails
The reason behind the flooding in the area is still under investigation, with Daily Mail Australia revealing on Friday that a wall built around the nearby Flemington Racecourse could have helped divert water into residential areas.
The Victorian Racing Club built the flood wall between the south side of the track and the Maribyrnong River in 2007.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday that Melbourne Water would review its decision approving the flood wall, which was approved by the Labor government in 2004.
On the street, residents remain concerned about how and when they can resume their normal lives.
“I’m pretty pissed off at the council,” Grandpa said, “Jim.” “They should have come right away and had this arranged. They came and cleaned the streets, but what about all that polluted stuff?’
The shelter at the Maribyrnong Community Center will remain open between 9am and 5pm to provide ongoing assistance to residents and provide information about available support.
Residents affected by floods can also email firstname.lastname@example.org with specific requests or concerns.