Volunteers save Sydney mansions from killer storm

By AAP, Liz Burke

A swimming pool is dislodged and lays on a beach after storms undermined the pilings at Collaroy in Sydney, Photo / AP
A swimming pool is dislodged and lays on a beach after storms undermined the pilings at Collaroy in Sydney, Photo / AP

A "last-chance effort" by an army of volunteers and emergency workers has saved some of Sydney's most exclusive homes from slipping into the sea - for now.

Ten multi-million-dollar properties are teetering on the coastline after being smashed by the savage storm.

Hundreds of volunteers and emergency crews built a sandbag wall at Collaroy last night after king tides ripped the coastline apart.

The mansions imperilled by the wild weather survived another hammering as the fourth night of king tides battered the beaches.

More than 10,000 sandbags holding tonnes of sands were laid against the precariously positioned homes. Volunteers came from all over the city, forming human chains to pass along sandbags in scenes described as "organised chaos".

The king tide hit about 10pm, but the efforts to shore up the vulnerable homes worked, and it looks like the storm has now passed.

Though rough surf conditions will continue, most of the foul weather that has belted the state's coast has moved towards Tasmania.

As the expensive clean-up begins, authorities are warning people to be vigilant as they return to homes evacuated during the floods.

Thousands of insurance claims, totalling in the millions, have been lodged for the impending repairs to the many damaged homes across New South Wales. But many of the Collaroy homes, on a coastline that has been eaten away at by storms since the 1920s, are unlikely to be covered by insurance.

Coastal engineer Angus Gordon, who is advising Northern Beaches Council, told news.com.au three or four of the homes would likely have to be demolished.

Resident Tony Cagorski, whose Pittwater Rd home is one of the houses now backing onto sea, said he had been told eviction notices could be next.

"They're going to give us eviction orders and knock the whole thing down. I don't know how many probably two or three [homes]." he told the Manly Daily. "It's devastating news."

Of those homes that would stay standing, he said a sea wall would have to be constructed before people could move back in.

The proposal of a wall has been floated for years in the community, but property owners, council, and state government have been unable to agree who should pay.

Now, the conflicted parties are also facing friction over who pays for the clean-up.

A row has broken out with families considering legal action against the council and blaming a protest against the construction of a sea wall proposed more than a decade ago, which they believe could have saved their homes.

Homeowner Zaza Silk lost a large chunk of her property on Sunday evening and said the council "should've put a wall up" earlier.

"The council has abandoned us and it is their fault for listening to stupid greenies and surfers," she told the Daily Telegraph.

"These greenies have cost us everything and now I can't even get into my home."

In 2002, about 3000 people protested against a planned sea wall, concerned it could destroy the beach.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes told the Telegraph there was a recent plan to build a sea wall in Collaroy but the owners would not agree on making a contribution, so it never happened.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten yesterday agreed on an open-ended support package for victims as an insurance catastrophe area was expanded to cover the east coast of Victoria, and Tasmania's northern and eastern coastlines.

The low-pressure system has now unleashed the worst floods for 40 years on Tasmania.
Five people have died in the storm, and three remain missing.

- news.com.au

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