Queensland’s wet weather warnings bring fresh anxiety and stress to victims of February floods

Victims of the devastating February floods in south-east Queensland say the latest severe rain event has triggered trauma, and could reverse the little progress made in clean-up efforts.

Tegan Cornacchia lost everything she owned when her two-storey Ipswich home had water up to the roof gutters in the 2011 floods.

She was forced to evacuate in this year’s floods and returned to find her bottom floor had gone completely under water.

She said the latest heavy rainfall has her on edge and unable to sleep, fearful she’ll have to flee her home again.

A house half underwater in muddy flood water.
Tegan Cornacchia’s home was inundated by floodwaters in February. (supplied)

“I am an absolute emotional and mental mess because of all this, I’m on medications for stress disorders and PTSD,” Ms Cornacchia said.

“I don’t have any of my possessions still because they’re in storage, in fear that they will get ruined by the floods.

“My kids have been traumatised. They’re continuously living through trauma every day being in this flooded area.”

A pile of ruined household items.
Tegan Cornacchia says most of her belongings are still in storage after the floods. (supplied)

Ms Cornacchia has been forced to live on the second floor of her North Booval home with her four children because the bottom floor remains uninhabitable due to damage to walls, debris, and mould.

A woman and her two adult children with disabilities left homeless due to the floods are living in tents in her backyard.

“I’m really on edge about it. So I’m hoping it really eases up in the next few days.

“I’ve got nowhere else to go.”

‘I’m absolutely exhausted’

Valerie Perriman’s Logan home was flooded in February and she said what little clean up she has been able to do could be destroyed by the latest weather.

“The water came over a meter of the bottom level of our property where our disabled daughter was living,” Ms Perriman said.

Ms Perriman stands in a stripped back room.
Valerie Perriman says clean up efforts could be destroyed by another flood event.(ABC News: Alexander Lewis)

“We had to rip everything out including walls and the floor, it’s a demolition zone there now and because of the mold I’m having to use a hospital-grade air purifier upstairs just so that we aren’t getting sick.”

She said the heavy rainfall is anxiety-inducing and causing mental health problems.

“It’s just something that I don’t know you can really prepare how you’re going to recover from it.”

Applications open for flood-assistance package

Queenslanders whose homes were damaged by Brisbane’s flood disaster can now register for grants to raise, repair, retrofit or have their property voluntarily bought back from today.

A joint federal and state flood government package costing $741 million is available for flooded home owners across 37 local government areas.

Those impacted by flooding from ex-tropical Cyclone Seth and flooding that occurred in central, southern and western Queensland in late 2021 are also eligible.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles told Parliament it will go some way towards assisting thousands of flood victims.

“The recent flood emergency saw parts of the south-east suffer disaster damage not seen since 2011,” he said.

“This is the largest household resilience program of its kind to ever be delivered in Australia.

Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles speaking to the media.
Qld Deputy Premier Steven Miles says the flood assistance package is the largest spend of its kind.(ABC News: Chris Gillette)

“This is a nation-leading program which has the potential to change people’s lives by improving the resilience to future flooding or removing them from harm’s way altogether.”

Fraser Coast Regional Council Mayor George Seymour said the funding had come at the right time for Maryborough residents, who have hardened two floods this year.

“I’ve already spoken to a number of people who live in Maryborough who have not been able to move back into their houses who I know will be interested in this,” Mr Seymour said.

“There are issues with getting builders anyway. So even if people directly after the floods had the money it still wouldn’t be fixed, just because there is a massive shortage of supplies and builders.”

Flood victims criticize government response

For Ms Cornacchia, the flood package has come too late.

“The state government has been really poor in their approach to helping victims,” ​​she said.

“We’ve been sitting here feeling totally ignored and there are lots more people out there that are in the same situation as I am.

“It is literally just a mess at the moment, so I would really urge anyone to reach out to their local member and try and get things fixed and rectified like they should have been from the start.”

Ms Perriman said she has been waiting to hear back if her home is eligible for a buyback for months.

“The fact I am a single mother on a disability and carer allowance and have no superannuation, education, qualifications or experiences leaves me thinking I will never be able to own a home ever again as I spent every last cent I had buying this place as I was homeless at the time and had never been without my girls before.

“I didn’t rush it and made sure I had all the conveyancing, building and pest and land searches and not once was I warned or made aware of the level of risk of flooding to the house.”

2021 flood damage bill up to triple that of 2011 disaster

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the clean up costs from the February flood event will far surpass the cost of the 2011 floods.

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