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Paul Dowe from Paul Dowe Galleries says since the Swan River flood the number of visitors to his Swan Valley business has fallen. Picture: ANITA McINNES

Most Swan Valley businesses open

WHEN the Swan River flooded it affected grape growers and other businesses on the floodplain but it also indirectly affected other Swan Valley businesses.

Paul Dowe from Paul Dowe Galleries, whose business is on the corner of West Swan and Coast roads said the flood had been a double-edged sword for his business.

“I got so many good pictures of the Swan River flood but once it made it onto the news people stopped coming to visit the Swan Valley,’’ he said.

Mr Dowe said the flooding in February had probably affected about 5 per cent of businesses in the Swan Valley but everyone else was still open for business.

He said he had friends overseas who had heard the news about the flooding and who had contacted him to make sure he was alright.

Charlie Rego from Penny Garden Restaurant said there were fewer visitors to the West Swan Rd restaurant immediately after the flood and about 5 per cent of calls were from people asking if they were open and whether they had been affected by the floods.

He said the visitor numbers had just picked up again recently.

After the flood table grape grower and president of the Grape Growers Association of WA Darryl Trease, who is also a City of Swan councillor said the estimated loss for the table grape industry was $10 million to $15m.

Swan Valley & Regional Winemakers Association president John Griffiths said he estimated about 100 tonne of grapes had been affected by flooding compared with 1000 tonne of grapes worth about $1m affected by splitting, which would conservatively cost wine makers about $15m in lost income.

The former Barnett government moved quickly to declare the area a natural disaster so grape growers could apply for Western Australia Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.

But then it became apparent that only grape growers affected by the flood could apply for assistance whereas grape growers who lost income due to splitting fruit are not eligible.

Other businesses on the floodplain were also counting the cost of the flood.

Corinne Reside from farm stay Settlers Rest in George St, West Swan said feed and top soil had been washed from their paddocks, fences destroyed, water troughs moved and 5m hay rolls destroyed.

The City of Swan said it had ramped up its mosquito control program saying there was a risk of higher than normal mosquito activity during the next few weeks.

At the same time the Shire of Mundaring said it had received calls from residents about mosquitoes in the area.

Department of Health managing scientist environmental health hazards Michael Lindsay said the wet weather and flooding had created ideal conditions for breeding of mosquitoes.

Dr Lindsay said while local government mosquito management programs were in place it was not realistic or logistically feasible to keep mosquitoes and biting flies below nuisance levels after the such extensive flooding and that increased mosquito activity was likely to result in an increased risk of the mosquito-borne diseases including Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus.

For more information visit the city’s website (www.swan.wa.gov.au/alerts) or call the customer service centre on 9267 9267.

By Anita McInnes

About Anita

Anita Mcinnes received a highly commended in the 2009 WA Media Awards suburban section for her reporting. Two of her sons were born at Swan District Hospital and for many years she was a partner in a small business, which operated in the Gingin-Muchea-Bullsbrook area. As a mature age student Anita studied journalism at Curtin University before working in Busselton, Dunsborough and Rockingham with West Regionals. She says the best part of her job is meeting eastern suburb residents and visiting the many attractions in the area.

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