Residents of flood ravaged streets situated a short stroll from Melbourne‘s CBD remain living among the ruins of their shattered lives days after the waters subsided.
On Tuesday, Maribyrnong victims of last Thursday’s flood began to lose their cool amid claims they have been abandoned by their local council.
Downriver from the Anglers Tavern, which was itself consumed by the Maribyrnong River last week, Oakland Street residents awake to the stench of mud and despair.
Anita Najdovski stands outside her house on Oakland Street – situated just 8kms from Melbourne’s CBD
Road to ruin: Maribyrnong streets along the river remain covered in rubbish
Jim and Helen help with the clean-up on Oakland Street. They are annoyed that the street remains trashed days after the floods subsided
Residents in neighbouring streets are no better off, with streets of the once well-to-do suburb now resembling a filthy, third-world ghetto.
While Maribyrnong City Council workers armed with high pressure hoses were quick to sweep the muddy streets clean, the median strips remain piled with rotting garbage and wrecked household items.
Heavy rain combined with a saturated catchment saw the Maribyrnong peak at 4.18 metres, sending floodwaters into more than a hundred properties in the low lying tidal area of the municipality.
Residents have accused the council of leaving them to fend for themselves among the muck.
Antony Nguyen has lived on Oakland Street for the past 15 years.
On Tuesday, what appeared to be most of his family’s possessions remained stacked outside his house and along the footpath.
While neighbours dealing with their own clean-up worries have helped him with the task, Mr Nguyen said it was a case of ‘every man for themselves’.
‘From the government we’ve received nothing. We haven’t seen anyone from the council. They’ve been too busy with the main strip and getting the road running,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
Maribyrnong sits just north of Melbourne’s CBD
Antony Nguyen’s home has been gutted by the floods. He now has to barricade himself inside at night out of fear of home invasion from looters
Oakland Street in Maribyrnong remains a trash-covered stink hole days after the flood waters subsided
Residents had been told trucks would be moving in to clear the mess on Monday, but when they turned-up, all they took were the bins.
‘They’ve started the clean-up somewhere, somehow, but where I don’t know. 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 neighbours endured, her three cars, including a vintage Corvette, were all destroyed.
Ms Najdovski said she was frustrated by the council’s unwillingness to engage with those impacted by the floods.
‘Every morning it is a slap in the face. Having to see this mess. It’s like Beirut,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
Ms Najdovski said she would have brought in her own skip on Saturday if the council hadn’t of assured residents it would deal with the damage.
‘Monday morning they did our bins because it was bin day. That’s the only time we’ve seen the council,’ she said. ‘It crazy. I couldn’t believe it. Because the rates here are huge. We pay everything and when you need them they are not around.’
Nearby resident ‘George’ assesses the damage to Oakland Street
What remains of a vintage Corvette that was parked in an Oakland Street garage
The remains of trashed homes are spewing out onto the footpath on Oakland Street
Residents claimed while local politicians and councillors promised swift action immediately following the disaster, it was ‘all for show’.
‘I know it’s all part of their thing. Saying this is what’s going to happen … but it’s all about the publicity,’ resident Zac said.
‘I don’t expect much from them, but the one thing I want is for them to clear this sh*t up.’
The mountain of junk continues to attract thieves and opportunistic ‘scumbags’ to the area.
While residents claim they don’t mind people pawing through their their muddy junk and taking it away, some people are using the area to dump their own rubbish.
‘They’re picking up what they want and dumping their own stuff,’ Ms Najdovski said.
Meanwhile looters continue to pilfer what hasn’t been destroyed by the flood water.
Mr Nguyen said the number of marauding looters to have descended on the stricken area was a major concern.
Looters and ‘Steptoe and Son’ style collectors have converged on the streets of Maribyrnong
The scenes around Oakland Street are not much better, with mountains of rubbish piled up along roads
Flemington Racecourse was saved by a large wall it constructed around it in 2007
‘Yesterday there was so many on the street. They started jumping fences. Yesterday morning my neighbour’s house got robbed. They’re going into the houses,’ he said.
The looting has become so bad, residents have now been forced to defend their properties themselves.
‘I actually had to barricade myself inside at night. I moved my car right back to the fence to block it and I push stuff up against the front door. My family are terrified,’ Mr Nguyen said.
While most residents in the area take out specific flood insurance, some unlucky residents who failed to do so have lost everything.
‘I just renovated my whole house less than a year ago. All brand new furniture,’ Mr Nguyen said. ‘You’re never over insured. Always under. Who thought something like this could happen?’
Maribyrnong Mayor Anthony Tran said the council was working hard to help flood victims.
‘We understand how much our community is relying on us, and we are throwing every available resource available into the field to complete the clean-up as quickly and efficiently as possible,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘The hard waste collection is now underway in earnest, with trucks travelling through the flood ravaged streets collecting a significant volume of materials for sorting and appropriate disposal.’
Cr Tran said there would be more than one sweep of the area to gather all the water damaged items.
‘Residents can be assured, we will not stop until it is done,’ he said.
Residents have had no option but to pile junk long the footpaths of Maribyrnong
The inside of a new Audi, which was swamped with flood waters in Maribyrnong last week
Mud and garbage are strewn across Maribyrnong footpaths
The reason behind the floods in the area remain under investigation, with Daily Mail Australia on Friday revealing a wall built around nearby Flemington Racecourse could have helped funnel the water into residential areas.
The Victorian Racing Club constructed the flood wall between the southern side of the track and the Maribyrnong River in 2007.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday that Melbourne Water would review the decision to approve the flood wall, which was approved by the Labor government in 2004.
Down on the streets, residents remain more concerned about how and when they might be able to return to their normal lives.
‘I’m pretty pissed off with the council,’ grandfather ‘Jim’ said. ‘They should have come right away and had this taken care off. They came and cleaned the streets, but what about all this stuff that’s contaminated?’
The relief centre at the Maribyrnong Community Centre remains open between 9am and 5pm to provide ongoing assistance to residents and provide information on supports available.
Flood impacted residents can also email firstname.lastname@example.org with specific requests or concerns.