Stay­ing put de­spite flood

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By FLORENCE KERR

Two South Waikato ex­pats have no de­sire to leave Queens­land de­spite ex­pe­ri­enc­ing what have been deemed the worst floods to hit Aus­tralia.

For­mer Toko­roa res­i­dents Josh Tereu and Lashaana Davis live in the flood-hit area where at least 20 lives have been lost.

Mr Tereu lives in Ip­swich, west of Bris­bane and Mrs Davis lives in the Bris­bane sub­urb of Jam­boree Heights. Both were lucky to have homes that were above the flood lev­els.

‘‘ Thank­fully we didn’t have to evac­u­ate. Many peo­ple down our street did though. Their houses ( went) un­der wa­ter, we were for­tu­nate to be up high on a hill. We also didn’t lose any­thing, phew,’’ Mrs Davis said.

Mr Tereu al­though el­e­vated, could not ac­cess out­side help and was stuck in­doors for three days.

‘‘ We couldn’t leave our house. My sis­ter’s baby was hys­ter­i­cal, it just shows that even lit­tle baby’s must know what’s hap­pen­ing, they can sense the emo­tions around them.’’

Both Mr Tereu and Mrs Davis said this was the first nat­u­ral dis­as­ter they had ex­pe­ri­enced and were over­whelmed by the dam­age.

‘‘We got to leave our house,’’ Mrs Davis said. ‘‘ We got to see the ex­tent of the dam­age around our street.

‘‘ The mo­tor­way is still closed be­cause one of our main bridges that takes us to the city is still un­der wa­ter.

‘‘ We had no power and we we’re told not to drink or use our wa­ter.

‘‘ Ba­si­cally we are iso­lated from ev­ery­thing. It was pretty scary stuff think­ing if you do go out, you might not make it back home.

‘‘My daugh­ter Paris’s school was un­der as well. It also brought out all the gi­ant spi­ders.’’

Mr Tereu now has a home with a lake view, some­thing he didn’t have prior to the flood.

‘‘Let me put it to you this way, the bridge I used to get to work is about the same length as the bridge on Marae­tai Rd and about the same height off the ground, now you can’t even see the bridge, it looks like lake Taupo.’’

Mr Tereu said: ‘‘I had a look around once we were al­lowed out and all that popped to mind when I saw the de­struc­tion was the im­ages from Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina.’’

Crime is also on the rise with aban­doned homes be­com­ing tar­gets for thieves.

‘‘Thieves are start­ing to scope out empty houses and they are not even try­ing to hide their in­tent. At night you can see them in their four wheel drives with big spot­lights, it’s disgusting.’’ Mr Tereu said.

He said while the height of the panic was slowly dwin­dling, ob­serv­ing hu­man be­hav­iour dur­ing a cri­sis has left Mr Tereu with mixed feel­ings.

‘‘You know when we were stock­ing up with sup­plies at the su­per­mar­ket peo­ple were push­ing each other and fight­ing over food it was get­ting quite ugly and then you see the lov­ing side peo­ple open­ing their homes to com­plete strangers who have been left home­less, so to de­scribe the at­mos­phere now is quite dif­fi­cult.’’

Mrs Davis’ hus­band David, also from Toko­roa is lucky to still have a job to go back to.

‘‘David was iso­lated from his job, he works 20 min­utes away and most of the roads were closed.

He was for­tu­nate to make it back dur­ing the high peak of the floods. He was given this week off, too risky to be out any­where. I was a ner­vous wreck know­ing he was out there,’’ Mrs Davis said.

Mr Tereu said it was un­likely he would re­turn to his work.

‘‘Boral Ply­wood Mill, where I work, is based right on the bank of the Bris­bane River, so it’s com­pletely un­der wa­ter.’’

Mr Tereu said he did think about com­ing home to Toko­roa but has worked out other op­tions.

‘‘I did flirt with the idea but in a cri­sis there are al­ways other op­tions, sil­ver lin­ings I guess.

‘‘Al­though I work in a ply­wood mill I do have a trade cer­tifi­cate in con­cret­ing and plas­ter­ing and with this hap­pen­ing peo­ple with trade certs will be in huge de­mand in the re­build.’’

Both Mrs Davis and Mr Tereu have re­ceived an abun­dance of phone calls from wor­ried fam­ily mem­bers in Toko­roa.

‘‘I’ve re­ceived many calls from Tok,’’ Mrs Davis said. ‘‘Mainly my dad want­ing us to get on the next flight home.

‘‘ Un­for­tu­nately the roads to the air­port were closed and I didn’t want to put my girls safety at risk. I was try­ing to re-as­sure him ev­ery­thing would be fine but re­ally I wasn’t too sure my­self.’’

Mr Tereu was adamant while Toko­roa was still home, he had no plans to re­turn in the fore­see­able fu­ture.

‘‘I left Tok be­cause it was al­ways rain­ing, so it’s kinda ironic that I should find my­self in one of the worst floods to hit Aus­tralia.’’

WA­TER WORLD: Ip­swich, home to for­mer Toko­roa res­i­dent Josh Tereu, was among the towns hard­est hit by the Queens­land floods.

CUT OFF: Flood­ing in Bris­bane meant those who were not evac­u­ated were in­stead iso­lated from the rest of the city for sev­eral days.

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