SES crews play a major role in flood evacuations.A dramatic increase in the number of residents in central Maitland would require a revised flood evacuation plan, Maitland SES local controller Bruce Varley said.

Mr Varley said it took more than 200 SES volunteers, police and firefighters to doorknock 800 homes in central Maitland, south Maitland and Lorn during the 2007 flood, a massive task.

He said another 1300 homes near the CBD would call for a new plan.

Mr Varley said a major flood – such as in 2007 when Hunter River predictions at the Belmore gauge reached 11.4 metres – required areas around the city to be evacuated.

“It’s a huge task to undertake and it takes a fair amount of time to do it,” he said. “We doorknocked about 800 dwellings in 2007 in two to three hours and any change to the population would require changes to the flood plan.

“If more people have to be evacuated we have to start earlier.”

Mr Varley said people living in flood areas must understand the risk and have a plan to stay safe. “They need to know what risk is posed to them at various river heights and what their response to those situations need to be,” he said.

Maitland City Council planning, environment and lifestyle executive manager Bernie Mortomore acknowledged the land proposed for up to 1300 affordable homes near Athel D’Ombrain Drive had been flooded in 1955 and said the council was working through these issues.

“The zoning has been changed to allow for residential development and we are still addressing the flooding issues and how to get people out if there is a flooding emergency,” he said.

“We need to work through an evacuation procedure and address the building issues.

“Details are being worked out and we need to do that quickly because there are deadlines within this funding arrangement.”

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