Finding community in flood recovery

Last updated: 
21 March 2023 12:22PM  
First published: 
21 March 2023 12:09PM

When Debbie saw what was left of her home, she burst into tears.

Days earlier, floodwaters had ripped through the home she had shared with her parents and 11-year-old son, and Debbie was the first to return to the house.

"You would think the water would just come up and then go back down again, but there must've been a whirlpool in there because everything was all over the place," she said.

"Beds on cupboards, everything was swollen. Anything that was chipboard disintegrated like paper. I just came downstairs and cried."

Black mud covered the family's home, and the family had no idea what to do next.

"We didn't even have a pillow to sleep on," Debbie said.

Gympie's tight rental market was the reason Debbie and her son had moved in with her parents before the flood, so the family were anxious about where they'd go next.

"We had a family friend who took us in and he had a little caravan in the front yard and one spare room. So mum and dad moved into the spare room and my son and I moved into the caravan," Debbie said.

A few months later, Debbie and her family were offered cabins at the Gympie Recovery Accommodation Park.

"Everyone has just been so amazing. They couldn't do enough to help us out," she said.

Debbie said the local community has been overwhelmingly supportive of residents of the park.

"Everyone here is so lovely. We all had homes - we didn't look to be in this position."

"The people here didn't want to leave their homes, but they had no choice."

As well as the department working to find long term accommodation for park residents, Debbie said residents are also working hard to find their own longer term accommodation outside the park.

The little community within the park knows their arrangement isn't permanent, and share leads with each other as they try to find rental properties in the area.

Debbie is also working and studying while she searches for a more permanent place to live.

"We're so grateful this place has been put together and they've done such an amazing job," she said.

"People here are just so grateful to have a roof over their heads."

The Queensland Government's Housing Service Centres are here if you or someone you know needs housing help. Call 13 QGOV for your nearest centre or call the Homeless Hotline on 1800 474 753.

A photo of Debbie Davey