Australia

Slow progress rebuilding Brisbane after last years floods

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As residents of Queensland's Darling Downs and Lockyer Valley this week marked the first anniversary of the floods, Brisbane locals are today remembering what unfolded in their streets this time last year.

14-thousand homes and businesses were inundated. And while much of the physical evidence has gone, for many the hardship continues.

Presenter: Annie Guest
Don Ellwood, Brisbane business owner
Pastor Graeme Oxford

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GUEST: Some changes are obvious in Brisbane since the flood - houses are higher, parks are better, there's waterfront restoration. But other changes are less public.

SFX MACHINE : WORKER: Got a bad hearing in there, bad bearing in there, that's all expenses in another day.

GUEST: The cost of repairing this machine is yet to join the flood related debt on Don Ellwood's balance sheets.

ELLWOOD: Then there was still another 20-25,000 dollars of expenses, even with everybody's help and we're just finding that hard to pay off.

GUEST: How stressful is it to have that debt from the floods?

ELLWOOD: Oh, very stressful. It's just annoying that there's not enough work to clear all that get up.

GUEST: Don Ellwood owns a steel hardening factory in the western Brisbane suburb of Sumner Park.

ELLWOOD: And of course the bank makes no trouble about giving you a ring to say you're a bit behind.

GUEST: And how long before you were fully operational again after the floods?

ELLWOOD: Fully operational. Gee whiz, a month ago.

GUEST: The flood mark is about four metres up the wall of his small factory. Don Ellwood's insurer didn't help. (Like others, he's now paying much more for flood coverage.) He appreciated the government's 25-thousand-dollar business grant but wished it came earlier.

ELLWOOD: A week after the flood, sort of sat down and cleaned a bit up and didn't know what to do next and had absolutely no money in the bank account and a friend of mine put 10 000 dollars in my account to help me start off again. Also people helped me out from down Melbourne with parts for my furnaces and things and got them a lot cheaper than what they normally would.

GUEST: What was it like to receive help, that money and the parts from either friends or even people you barely knew?

ELLWOOD: Without them, it would have been curtains for me and they just quietly whisper to you, don't worry about that. We'll just send it to you and you just think thank heavens.

GUEST: Several businesses in this low lying industrial estate have never reopened. Worse, some people committed suicide after the flood.

Christian Pastor Graeme Oxford's church is based inside the industrial area, where he says the struggle was palpable.

OXFORD: There were a couple of people who found it too hard and as a result took their own lives. It was probably just one thing to many on top of what other things they were struggling with.

GUEST: Pastor Oxford says people felt great empathy and adversity has produced at least one positive thing.

OXFORD: I suppose at one stage people would just wave now that they'll go and talk to each other, they take a greater interest in each others business and things like that.

GUEST: With the week of anniversaries of Queensland's floods almost over, attention is turning to a looming State Election.

The result of that could be influenced by the Floods Inquiry's report, due next month.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation
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