Southland family hit hard by Aust floods

LAUREN HAYES
Last updated 05:00 04/02/2013

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A Southland family caught up in the Queensland floods could be left homeless if an evacuation centre shuts.

Former Invercargill resident Misti Tatana, who moved to Queensland with partner, Riki Heremia, and daughters, Rhylei, 7, and Bryn, 6, last year, has been staying in an evacuation centre since flood waters damaged the family's rented house in Boyne Island, about 500km north of Brisbane, nine days ago.

However, with the evacuation centre set to close this week and her house still not habitable, Ms Tatana is unsure where her family will sleep.

The four had spent a night in their car when the floods first hit, Ms Tatana said.

They arrived at the evacuation centre the next day, still in their wet clothes from the night before.

As the flood had damaged both sewage pipes and electrical wiring in their house it was deemed a health and safety risk, so the family had to stay put at the evacuation centre, along with a family of 13 and an elderly couple.

So far, they had managed to keep their spirits up, telling the girls the experience was all part of a camping adventure, and even being lent a house for the weekend for a break, Ms Tatana said.

However, she did not know where the family would end up if they could not return to the evacuation centre this week.

Unlike many people affected by the floods, the Southlanders could not rely on relatives or close friends for temporary accommodation, and would have to pay for a safe, dry place for her daughters.

"We might have to stay in a hotel or something because we sort of don't have anyone here."

To fund this, she had applied for emergency relief of $1000 per adult and $400 per child and was waiting for a result, she said.

The family had only been in Australia six weeks and were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, she said.

"It's just bad luck because the part that was hit in Boyne was such a small area."

Another Southlander living in Australia witnessed the latest round of destruction this weekend in Rockhampton, where the Fitzroy River peaked at 8.6 metres on Saturday night, closing highways and endangering homes.

Winton-raised Matthew Wilson lives in nearby Emu Park but drives through water-logged Rockhampton to get to work.

He said food supplies in the city were running low and many residents were being taken to hospital because of the humidity.

"You lift your finger sort of thing and you're covered with cups of sweat."

His house had not been too badly affected but had sprung leaks during the heavy rain, he said.

"I've been brought up in Southland. I've seen a lot of rain, but I've never seen it coming down as quickly," he said.

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With water from the river swamping the streets, crocodile attacks were also a risk, he said.

- The Southland Times

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