IT’S been a long and challenging road to recovery for residents since floodwaters swept through the North West eight months ago, causing widespread damage and devastation in what was one of the worst floods in at least half a century.
Slowly but surely, though, they’re managing to find their feet again. Rowena farmers Sid and Jenni Brummell’s property Rio Park was submerged by floodwaters, isolating them for about four weeks.
Water entered their home and they lost cars, machinery and personal belongings at a cost of about $500,000.
Their insurance did not cover flooding.
“After losing that much money at that time, it’s hard to recuperate, but each day gets better, because at the end of the day you can only go forward,” Mrs Brummell said.
It was thought to have been the worst flood in that area in about 150 years – the big 1974 flood did not even enter the house at Rio Park.
Sons Beau and Patrick were living in Sydney when the floods hit and had to watch on helplessly from afar as they saw their home swamped by the floodwaters.
But they have since returned to help clean it up and get the farming and contracting businesses back up and running.
“There have been times when we’ve all been in tears, but it’s a great relief to have them home,” Mrs Brummell said.
The family has slowly been rebuilding the damaged parts of their home, doing what they can as money becomes
But while it’s been tough, Mrs Brummell said they still remained grateful it wasn’t worse.
“It’s just hard, it’s hard financially, but at the end of the day it’s just money. We’ve still got each other,” she said.
The community has also proved to be a great support, banding together and meeting regularly to check in on each other and chat.
Ironically, Mrs Brummell said they were now hoping for a bit more rain to give them a bumper harvest to get them back on track.
In Moree, Fork and Spade Nursery owner Carolyn Osmond lost not only everything at her business, but also half her home.
The flood topped off what had been a rough year for Mrs Osmond, during which she lost her husband and faced the November floods just 10 weeks later.
Mrs Osmond said the floodwaters hit in the early hours one February morning.
She told The Leader the water was about a metre high and upon seeing that she tore outside, afraid for her animals.
“I can still hear my son saying, “Get her upstairs, get her upstairs”, because I’m quite small and old,” she said. The river peaked about 10 metres, causing serious damage at her business and the ground level of her two-storey home, as well as ruining her vehicles.
The nursery and her home were both uninsured for flooding.
“We just lost everything at the nursery, just everything,” she said.
Her sons cleaned up the nursery for her and she was back to trading within two to three weeks, with a $15,000 state government grant also a welcome hand.
But it wasn’t until about three months later that life started to get brighter.
“I was not much good until May and then I thought I had turned the corner, and I thought “I’m going to be alright”,” Mrs Osmond said.
She praised the “marvellous” support from the council, emergency services, community and friends for helping her get back on track.
Moree Plains Shire mayor Katrina Humphries said while the final damage toll could not be quantified, the damage to roads alone cost $40 million.
But she said the end was in sight and expected everyone to be back in their homes by Christmas.
“I think people have been amazingly resilient,” Cr Humphries said.
“It doesn’t surprise me, they get in and help each other.”
She said the area was pretty much back to normal, but “the edges are very rough”.
“As far as the broader North West community goes, we’re extremely grateful for the support and compassion we got from our neighbours,” Cr Humphries said.