A LANDMARK class action in favour of victims of the 2011 southeast Queensland floods is reason for Brisbane’s Eddy Delsorte to reflect on the day his Sherwood home went under nearly nine years ago.
“I would never want to go through the flood again. It is heartbreaking,” Mr Delsorte said, the memories of the murky Brisbane River floodwaters still alive.
Last week the Supreme Court of New South Wales ruled that the Queensland Government had failed to manage its dams properly during the event.
But unlike almost 7000 Queenslanders who will receive a hefty compensation cheque for their troubles, Mr Delsorte took no part in the class action.
Instead of relying on lawyers, Mr Delsorte, who retired from working for the Archdiocese of Brisbane earlier this year, said his family was taken care of “with the Lord’s provision” – starting with the generosity of daily Massgoers to St Stephen’s Cathedral.
“A lady turned to me during one Mass and said ‘I’d like to give you some money towards your kitchen’,” he said.
“At that stage we were just struggling to cope and to get the money we needed.
“And then there were people within the (Archdiocese of Brisbane) precinct who gave us money, and then the staff club, and our own friends as well.
“It was just unbelievable how the money came in.
“All our repairs were covered by donations or from the state government… ”
One of the first jobs needed was the repair on the Delsorte family’s ruined bathroom.
Again, friends stepped in to do the work.
“That was needed to happen before we could get back into our house,” he said.
Even on the day of the flood, Mr Delsorte recalls how his daughter and friends saved furniture from their house, with a Good Samaritan neighbour “up the road” offering a place to store the goods.
“And we got out about 75 per cent of our stuff out of the house before our house was inundated,” he said.
“Again, it could have been worse. It was the provision of the Lord at the right time.
“There was the house, it looked like it was just in the middle of a lake.”
Months after the floodwaters receded, Mr Delsorte said he received money from the state government.
He also received a small payout from his insurance company, but like many, it was not adequate to cover the enormous damage bills.
“Everyone was under the understanding that they did cover flood, but they didn’t, and they did give a gratias payout of $12,500,” he said.
Mr Delsorte said he was pleased for the thousands of flood victims – part of the Maurice Blackburn Lawyers class action – could now look forward to big payouts.
The action alleged the operators of the Wivenhoe and Somerset dams failed to use rainfall forecasts in making decisions about operating strategies and to preserve a reasonable amount of the dams’ storage capacity to protect homes from flooding.
“When you look at some of the areas – like at Goodna – they had no insurance, they were totally inundated, they’ve just struggled and it’s been an ongoing struggle,” Mr Delsorte said.
“It was just such extreme circumstances.”
“We are just extremely grateful for the house that we’ve got and that it’s in a far better state than it was before the flood.”
Mr Delsorte, who retired from working with the Archdiocese’s Office of Financial Administrator in April, said he was now using some of his spare time working on his home, improving, retrofitting and preparing for any future disaster.
“We looked at the idea of raising the house, but it would have meant a lot more steps,” he said.
“Really we are preparing the house to try and make us able to live here for the next 20 years.”