Staying put despite flood
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.