Yasi victims wait for rebuild to start
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.