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Nightmare’s return too much for townsfolk’s spirits

Posted by on 04/12/2018

Struck twice … Wendy Linsley outside her Laidley home.SHOCK, sadness and despair swirl around the receding, muddied waters of Laidley, west of Brisbane, where family homes rebuilt only a year ago have once again been devastated by flood.

In the main street, locals walk slowly, disbelief written across their faces as they peer into the dirty glass windows of their local shops.

Wendy Linsley, who lives in Napier Street, one of the lowest-lying areas in Laidley, cannot sleep at night and is constantly on the brink of tears.

”I can’t handle this any more,” she says. ”Living with the fear of this happening any time – it’s too much. I have to leave … but I have nowhere to go.”

Two years ago, this Lockyer Valley town threw itself into the post-flood clean-up with gusto, although 12 died in the area. Community spirit and morale were high as locals vowed to rebuild their lives and reclaim their homes and businesses. They took out second mortgages, spent their superannuation balances and drained their savings accounts to do so. Some crumpled under the pressure of losing everything and left Laidley permanently but most stayed, buoyed by the community support and determined to put the past behind them.

But today, locals are weary. After a one-in-100-year-flood they did not imagine they would be faced with an even more devastating clean-up only two years later.

After 2011, when Ms Linsley had no insurance, she and her partner and their son Beau rebuilt their house, their business and their lives, piece by donated piece.

But last Sunday night, the river adjoining their property rose and came rushing towards their house, hitting their shed with such force it was lifted off its concrete slab.

Furniture that had been replaced, donated or saved two years ago was destroyed in seconds, swallowed under a metre of stinking mud.

”Can you believe this? Again?” Ms Linsley said. ”I’m desperate to stay in Laidley – this is our home, our community – but I can’t face this house. I’m so tired. Everyone is so tired. It’s very difficult to gather the energy to start all over again so soon – but I guess we don’t have a choice.

”We have a mortgage here, so it’s not like we can afford to go and rent somewhere else, although that’s exactly what I feel like doing; locking up the house, walking away and renting somewhere in Laidley that doesn’t flood.”

The owners of the Eagle Rock Cafe on Laidley’s main street, Gary and Denise Morris, are worried for the town. Their cafe, inundated in 2011, flooded again during the week.

”Everyone is so scared,” Mrs Morris said, ”so scared and so sad. It’s just too much and some of them will never come back. It’s too devastating for them. Yes, many will rally through but there’ll be a lot more this time who leave.

”Emotionally the town will take a long time to recover from this and, who knows, there could be another flood before they do. That’s the thing now, that’s what’s so terrifying for people: the thought that this could happen again at any time.”

Next door, the owners of the local Chinese restaurant are stunned. Tony Hueng and his family opened their doors only six months ago.

”We knew it flooded in 2011 when we took over the lease,” Mr Hueng said. ”But we never thought it would happen again. Not this soon.”

Many in the town are angry at the Lockyer Valley Regional Council. They feel marginalised, neglected and ignored by their councillors, who they say have put all their energies into other towns such as Grantham or Gatton.

”I know they’ve all been through a lot but we’re suffering here, too,” said Barry Seipel, a local volunteer.

”There’s only so much that people can take before they break.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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