Yasi vic­tims wait for re­build to start

Townsville Bulletin - - News -

FRUS­TRATED: El Ar­ish woman He­len Bald­win with daugh­ter Beth and son Zac, 8, in their makeshift home are wait­ing to hear when their wrecked home will be re­built AT 7.45am yes­ter­day, EL Ar­ish mum He­len Bald­win was stand­ing in a pre­war cor­ru­gated iron shed plas­ter­ing but­ter and Vegemite on to slices of toast for break­fast.

Son Zac, 8, was get­ting ready for school and daugh­ter Beth, 18, was down from Cairns to give Mum a hand. The rough, old shed is now their home un­til their new house is built and that could take un­til when the cows come home.

He­len and hus­band Robert’s home next to the shed was de­stroyed in Cy­clone Yasi. An asses­sor has been through the house and has ticked it off for de­mo­li­tion. He­len and Robert thought with that done it would just be a mat­ter of shift­ing through the g e a r s unt i l t hey were c r ui s i ng to­wards the start of con­struc­tion of a new home.

Like most peo­ple in the cy­clone zone they are find­ing out that the step from mov­ing from as­sess­ment to start-ofbuild­ing is a huge one in­deed. In fact it’s a step few liv­ing un­der tarped roofs in Tully’s Cy­clone Al­ley, where it still rains ev­ery other day, have had the plea­sure of tak­ing.

Ms Bald­win said the asses­sor sent a build­ing com­pany through to quote on the de­mo­li­tion job. She said the com­pany was sub-con­tracted to a lead build­ing firm which was sup­posed to send the quote to the in­surance com­pany. She said that as far as she knows the lead com­pany has not for­warded t he quote pro­vided by t he sub­con­trac­tor.

‘‘ They ap­pear not to have sent in the quote yet, but I feel that the in­surance com­pany shouldn’t be just sitting there. It should be chas­ing them for the quote,’’ she said.

Ms Bald­win is more or less re­signed to what she is fac­ing and says ev­ery­one she knows who had ma­jor dam­age to their home is in the same boat.

She is no new­comer to big cy­clones. The house that got wiped out by cat­e­gory five Cy­clone Yasi re­ceived sub­stan­tial dam­age in Cy­clone Larry in 2006, but the re­pairs then were un­der­taken with a min­i­mum of fuss.

There are a lot of things about the af­ter­math of Yasi that have her puz­zled. The lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion among emer­gency work­ers were tan­gled to the ex­tent that she and oth­ers in her area had up to four SES teams turn up to talk about the same prob­lem. She said there was a lot of dou­bling up be­tween the re­cov­ery groups which would have only served to stretch their re­sources.

‘‘ Don’t get me wrong. We were all so thank­ful those peo­ple were here, but it makes you won­der if they would have been more efficient if their com­mu­ni­ca­tion lines had been bet­ter,’’ she said.

She is gra­cious in her ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the help she re­ceived from a team of Bris­bane vol­un­teer elec­tri­cians. She had been on gen­er­a­tor power for six weeks when they came through and re­con­nected her power sup­ply in rudi­men­tary fash­ion so that she could at least op­er­ate ba­sic ap­pli­ances.

How­ever, with the pace the in­surance claim is pro­ceed­ing, Ms Bald­win holds lit­tle hope that she and her fam­ily will be in­stalled in a new home by year’s end.

‘‘ I doubt we’ll see it fin­ished this year. Not at this rate,’’ she said.

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