Monday, 1 August 2011

Cyclone Yasi | six months on

Six months after cyclone Yasi, Far Northerners are still waiting to get home

SARAH Jones's home is a jigsaw puzzle, with tarps filling in the missing pieces

Long wait to be home and dry: Sarah Jones home is a jigsaw puzzle, with tarps filling in the missing pieces. Picture: Brendan Francis.

When cyclone Yasi tore through Tully, 90 per cent of the roof was torn from the 29-year-old’s home, flooding her four-bedroom house with about 15cm of water, while she sheltered in the basement.

Six months on, she is living in a caravan on the property, waiting to hear from her insurers about whether the house will be demolished.

Despite the home being assessed a month after the cyclone, she said she hasn’t heard the outcome or seen an engineer’s report on the damage.

"Whether I get to keep the house depends on the water saturation," Ms Jones said.

"If it is more than 14 per cent they will demolish, if it is under they will gut it and rebuild with what they can.
"Either way, it would be nice to know.

"Right now I am frustrated, p....d off … angry, but other days you just want to cry, and I know I am not alone."

There are definite signs of recovery on the Cassowary Coast and some positive stories as families start to move into their rebuilt homes in some of the worst-hit areas, including Hull Heads and Tully Heads.

A few people are happy with their insurers, but for most, the wait has been too long.

Many are fed up with telling their stories again and again as different assessors come to look at their homes.
"It is exhausting," Cardwell resident Sue Millar said.

"There seems to be no time limit to when they have to get back to you and you just have to sit, wait and keep

Some lucky residents have found one of the few available rental properties to live in, but many continue to stay with friends and family or in the only undamaged part of their home while they wait for the insurance money or for builders to start the repairs.

At the same time, insurance premiums have gone up by about 10 per cent in the Far North since January.
And there are concerns premiums will keep rising as insurers buffer the risk of another cyclone hitting the region.

Suncorp chief executive Mark Milliner said while buildings in the Far North would never be cyclone-proof, new construction standards kept the risk manageable.

"Never say never, but I can’t see the reinsurance market not supporting the Far North. The reality is north Queensland is highly insurable and will remain so," he said.

Insurance industry figures show Yasi cost insurers $1.17 billion with 69,497 claims, more than 12,000 individual claims more than for the Queensland floods.

At the end of July, more than $450 million had been paid out of a total kitty of $720 million.

Cassowary Coast councillor Ross Sorbello said in the coming months people would really notice the rebuilding progress.

Cr Sorbello understands only too well what the region’s people are going through.

He and wife Margaret are renting while they decide where to rebuild their family home, which will be demolished, before the next cyclone season.

Author | Source
Natalie Dixon
Monday, August 1, 2011
© The Cairns Post

My View

Six months of elapsed time is sufficient time to take stock of how the recovery has proceeded and the benefits of the Qld Reconstruction Authority(QRA)

The spin put on by the Government is that Queensland is been reconstructed. I do understand the need to be simple when articulating a message and exaggeration is part and parcel of media spin.

But I am a little confused why the need for another layer of middle management via the (QRA) when there is already significant bureaucracy already functioning.

To fix the main roads we have the Main Roads Department and to fix Council assets we have losal authorities. The Government in its spin was trying to give the impression that the (QRA) was also rebuilding private property. This is just not happening. If the individual or entity was not covered by insurance then you are on your own. The (QRA) is useless in these circumstances and does not provide loans or grants to reconstruction.

Public assets rebuilding such as loal roads and esplanades are being done by local Authorities.

Finaly, this is another rexample of where modern governance is preoccupied with middle management instead of a hands on approach and getting the job done.

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