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NSW flood victims salvage what they can, holiday park residents 'devastated' and 'emotionally exhausted'

Monday March 29, 2021 - 07:54 AEDT

Residents of a holiday park on the New South Wales Mid North Coast are crying out for help after their properties are left destroyed by last week's flooding.


Brigadoon is a holiday park by name, but for many it is the only home they know.


When floodwaters rose more than a week ago, the park's mostly elderly residents lost everything.


In recent days they have been able to return to their homes in North Haven, south of Port Macquarie, to survey the damage but it is not safe for them to stay.


Their homes are riddled with mould and mildew and their ruined possessions are being stripped from homes to be taken to the tip.


Residents say the challenge of the difficult road ahead is beginning to sink in.


"I'm devastated," Joy Dunlop said.


"I'm not going to cry anymore ? I think I'm all cried out now."


Many of the residents are not insured as they say it is prohibitively expensive.


"I tried to get it when I came here," Ms Dunlop said.


"It's far too expensive to get the flood insurance."


Resident Tony Webb has had the same experience.


"Apparently there's a couple of companies that do it but they are extremely expensive," he said.


Ruined white goods, mattresses


Local woman Neikz Jones said there were about 200 permanent residents at the holiday park and she had taken on the role of speaking to each of them to collate a list of what they needed.


"We need 110 fridges, we've got washing machines destroyed so we need at least 110 of them as well, mattresses, bedding, clothing, wardrobes, chests of drawers," she said.


She said they also needed more tradies and volunteers to help.


"There seems to be a lot of help in Port Macquarie but North Haven's the forgotten zone," Ms Jones said.


"We need diggers, we need excavators, tip-up trucks, we need backhoes, cabins need demolishing."


She was also helping the residents emotionally.


"These are battlers here, they're struggling, they're emotionally exhausted," Ms Jones said.


"Some of them are so broken they just can't talk ? you've just got to stand there and hug them."


Concerns of looting


Some residents have friends and family to stay with but others are sleeping in cars or caravans that escaped the floodwaters.


Due to the threat of looters, they want to be close by to protect the belongings that they have left.


John Peebles said he could not locate his stereo speakers or other technological items.


Before he evacuated, he had lifted them to higher parts of his caravan to be out of the way of the rising floodwater.


Mr Peebles now fears he is a victim of looting.


"It's terrible ? there's so many beautiful people out there who helped me and unfortunately there's others who have not got any compassion or empathy for anybody," he said.


"I feel sorry for them, that's what they have to do to exist, take other people's belongings when they can't defend themselves."


Mr Peebles said he had not made a report to police yet as he was still compiling a list of what was missing.


NSW Police said they had not had any reports of looting in the area.


Will they come back?


While there are mixed views from the residents about whether they would return to the area, Ms Dunlop is determined to stay.


"I'll stay living here, it's a beautiful spot, absolutely gorgeous," she said.


"This is something that might never ever happen again ? I hope it never happens again."


Tony Webb, who estimates it will cost tens of thousands of dollars to rebuild, is not yet sure of his plan.


"It all depends," he said.


"There's a really nice person walking around taking information for donations from big companies to help out.


"But if I have to rebuild myself, I'll just walk away from it ? it's just too much; new floors, new walls, everything, even the ceiling."


Mr Peebles says he wants to leave, if he can.


"Financially, it could be difficult to move and you couldn't sell this property anyway to anybody for a long, long period of time ? potential buyers just wouldn't be interested," he said.


"I'll be thinking about my situation and if there was an opportunity to get out, yes I would.


"I want to move on, I don't want to go through this again at my age."







- ABC

© ABC 2021

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