Flash flood­ing strips away all they owned

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Inge Hansen Inge.hansen@whit­sun­day­times.com.au

JULIE and Stephen Seidel thought they had es­caped Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Deb­bie with a cou­ple of leaks and some fallen trees.

Lit­tle did they know the fol­low­ing night would be much worse.

On Wed­nes­day night, the pair were ly­ing in bed when they woke to their room fill­ing with wa­ter.

“I just woke up and started scream­ing at the two boys,” Julie said.

The cou­ple, their son, Glen, and their Can­non­vale home had fallen vic­tim to the se­vere flash flood­ing that hit the re­gion the night af­ter Deb­bie.

Stephen said he orig­i­nally thought it was the roof caus­ing the flood­ing and it had fallen in.

“It wasn’t un­til I looked to­wards the gen­er­a­tor at the front step that I re­alised the wa­ter wasn’t com­ing from the roof, it was com­ing from out­side the house,” he said.

“We opened up the garage door and it just poured in.”

Julie and Stephen said they were forced to open the doors of their house to let the wa­ter es­cape or run the risk of their home be­ing sub­merged.

About 300mm of wa­ter filled the main liv­ing area while the back rooms in the house were filled with half a me­tre of wa­ter.

“I tried to pick things up on the floor but it wasn’t do­ing any good so I just had to hold onto the door frame be­cause if I didn’t, I would have gone out as well,” Julie said.

The cou­ple, who moved to the Whit­sun­days in 2011 and had never ex­pe­ri­enced a cy­clone be­fore, lost ev­ery­thing.

They quickly made con­tact with their in­sur­ers, Sun­corp, and said they did an “in­cred­i­ble job”.

The cou­ple said it was a very fast-mov­ing process and had been easy from the get-go.

“Sun­corp have been re­ally good and so have the builders,” Julie said.

“We will move back in even­tu­ally but we’re not sure how long that will be.”

Sun­corp’s Joshua Cooney said since Deb­bie hit last Tues­day, 1700 jobs had been al­lo­cated and about half had al­ready been as­sessed, with re­pairs un­der way.

He said Sun­corp had al­ready de­ployed its panel of builders to Proser­pine, Bowen, Collinsville and Air­lie Beach.

“We’ve got builders on site and men of all trades do­ing what they need to do to get peo­ple’s lives back on track be­cause what’s hap­pened is a catas­tro­phe,” he said.

Of the 1700 jobs al­lo­cated, 777 jobs were un­der way, in­clud­ing make-safe work.

Since Deb­bie, Sun­corp has re­ceived more than 8000 claims from res­i­dents in north and south-east Queens­land and north­ern New South Wales.

Mr Cooney said the in­sur­ance re­cov­ery ef­fort was not slow­ing down and would con­tinue to in­crease as more claims were lodged and more builders re­ceived ap­proval to start work.

“Sun­corp has a large con­tin­gent of trades­peo­ple on the ground and this will con­tinue to climb,” he said.

“Work is al­lo­cated to lo­cal trades and claims teams stay and spend money in the re­gion.”

I just had to hold onto the door frame be­cause if I didn’t, I would have gone out as well. — Julie Seidel

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