Locals work together as waves drench Yam
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.