Springfield Lakes families still unable to live in homes severely damaged after Halloween hailstorms

 In Home News Section, Uncategorized

Hailstones the size of cricket balls last year smashed the roof of Louise Morton’s home and six months later she watch tradespeople rip the rest of it apart.

Water had spilled in during the months it took for the storm damage to be repaired, and the walls, floors and ceiling had become covered with mould.

“Three hundred tiles were broken, which then landed on the ceiling — the ceiling soaked the insulation soaked, and then some of the ceilings collapsed,” Mrs Morton said.

“The rain kept coming in and they just got worse and worse.

“In June … they asked us to leave and said that we couldn’t stay here, it was unhealthy; although we had lived in it, you know, for quite a few months.

“This is where we are now one year on. So, a lot worse off than we were that’s for sure,” Mrs Morton said, gesturing to the stripped back walls and dehumidifiers that decorate her Springfield Lakes home, west of Brisbane.

She was living with her husband, Phil, 35 kilometres away in Brisbane, in their tenth temporary accommodation site in four months.

She still routinely returns to Springfield Lakes to water her gardens and maintain what she can of her beloved family home.

“We have five grandkids, and they can’t visit … that’s the most difficult thing because they’re used to being in our home, coming for a visit and staying with Grandma and Poppy,” she said.

“I couldn’t imagine doing this by myself. Or if I had a young family or pets or things like that.

“We’re pretty good, but we have our days. Especially living in apartments.”

It has been more than a year since the 2020 Halloween hailstorm battered Springfield with 14-centimetre hailstones.

The event has been declared a catastrophe by the Insurance Council of Australia, and the damage bill has risen to more than $1.08 billion.

Now the Mortons and hundreds of other home owners in the Springfield Lakes area are looking down the barrel of a second storm season still waiting for repairs.

The Queensland Reconstruction Authority said at least 21 homes were still severely damaged and 261 others have moderate or minor damage.

Temporary homes cannot replace the real thing

Every time a storm is forecast Sarah and Tim Knopke drive half an hour from their temporary residence in Eight Mile Plains to check the damage to their actual home in Springfield Lakes has not worsened.

Like their neighbours the Mortons, the Knopkes were forced to move when water leaks worsened the storm damage and caused their ceiling to collapse.

They are also waiting for the repairs to be finalised.

“When they forecast a storm and they’re forecasting hail, we don’t actually know what’s happening here [at Springfield Lakes], and that’s a real worry,” Mrs Knopke said.

“We tend to come for a drive just have a look in the dark with torches.

“When it was the anniversary [of the storms]. I was a bit teary, but Tim said today’s not the important date, the day we come home is.

“That’s what we focus on … and as long as we’re home for Christmas, we’ll be happy.”

Taskforce launched as community lends a hand

The Insurance Council of Australia attributed the delays to material deficits, trade shortages and border closures which limited “the movement of personnel into Queensland”.

It said more than 85 per cent of claims from the Halloween hailstorms have been closed, and it expected progress to ramp up as borders reopen.

Both the Mortons and the Knopes have been told they would be home before Christmas.

Ipswich City Council has launched a taskforce to help residents navigate the insurance process and the local YMCA was working to repair other damage.

“We’re hearing from community adults, families, children that are struggling,” YMCA community services manager Bec Andlemac said.

“Every time there’s a severe storm warning or clouds forming … there’s that stress of, ‘Is this storm a dangerous storm? Is it going to hit Springfield? Is it going to do more damage to my house, or is my house going to survive now that it’s repaired?

“What we’ve been able to do is link with Lifeline, and the schools have utilised an amazing program called storm birds and there was a book written to support children through that process.

“We’re really proud of the work we’ve done and we’re really proud to be able to keep offering that to the community.”

(Original ABC Article)