Lo­cals work to­gether as waves drench Yam

The Weekend Post - - News -

Mr Billy said. “It was wind, tide, all the el­e­ments came to­gether.”

Mr Billy was one of the “fam­ily boys” who rushed from higher ground to lend a hand to those closer to the water.

As soon as the sea sub­sided he got to work build­ing a makeshift sand em­bank­ment around Michelle Re­sek’s cor­ru­gated iron home to try to limit any fur­ther in­un­da­tion.

He said lo­cals des­per­ately wanted more homes to be al­lowed to be built or the rock wall to be re­placed – or both.

“There’s an ar­gu­ment with the coun­cil and the tra­di­tional own­ers over land, so the com­mu­nity can’t get hous­ing,” he said.

Res­i­dents are fu­ri­ous at the bungling that led to al­most all of a $26.2 mil­lion fed­eral fund­ing pack­age to build sea­walls on six is­lands be­ing spent only on Saibai Is­land.

“They spent $24.5 mil­lion on one is­land when that money could have been shared out to all these low-ly­ing is­lands that des­per­ately need it,” Ms Re­sek said.

“Now look where we are. Fam­i­lies are out of home, lost all their white­goods, lost all their mem­o­ries, all their be­long­ings. For what?”

Le­ich­hardt MP War­ren Entsch said the lo­cal na­tive ti­tle body cor­po­rate needed to reach an agree­ment with Tor­res Strait Is­land Re­gional Coun­cil as a mat­ter of ur­gency.

“There is plenty of high land there,” he said. “All they’ve got to do is agree to solve the na­tive ti­tle is­sues so new homes can be built.”

Lo­cals have lit­tle faith any- thing will be done in the near fu­ture de­spite dis­as­ter re­cov­ery fund­ing be­ing ex­tended to the Tor­res Strait.

Goiro Ka­woro, who man­ages the lo­cal dis­trib­u­tor, said is­lan­ders were used to mak­ing do with the lit­tle they had.

“I don’t think peo­ple re­alise what is hap­pen­ing out here, or they know but they’re not tak­ing any ac­tion,” he said.

HARD WORK: Yam Is­land res­i­dent Richard Billy sits on the sand wall he built around a friend's home as a king tide flooded low-ly­ing homes.

AF­TER­MATH: Yam Is­land res­i­dent Michelle Re­sek's home was moved off its foun­da­tions.

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