Shelter still rolling out to Queensland cyclone victims

Laine Clark |

Many lost everything in floodwaters left in Tropical Cyclone Jasper’s aftermath.
Many lost everything in floodwaters left in Tropical Cyclone Jasper’s aftermath.

A long wait for temporary housing is finally over for a flood-hit far north Queensland community, just as another cyclone looms.

However, the people of Degarra north of Cairns may need more time to recover from the mental toll of record flooding that devastated their region in December.

“Nearly 40 days after the event, they are broken,” Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr told AAP.

Premier Steven Miles visited the region on Tuesday, delivering much-needed caravans to house Degarra’s displaced.

Road washed away in Cairns (file image)
Heavy rain is forecast for the Cairns region from Thursday after Cyclone Kirrily crosses the coast. (Joshua Prieto/AAP PHOTOS)

However Mr Kerr said more help was needed for exhausted residents.

Many people in the area lost everything in floodwaters caused by Tropical Cyclone Jasper which caused an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in mid-December.

More than a month later, some residents are yet to digest the disaster due to the long wait for emergency shelter.

Mr Kerr said displaced residents had been sleeping on mattresses in lounge rooms and on outside decking with friends and family while waiting to rebuild.

“They don’t have anywhere else to go. The strain that puts on people is unbelievable,” he said.

Simply finding time to grieve has been difficult.

“One of the ladies said to me she doesn’t even have somewhere to go and have a cry,” Mr Kerr said.

“It’s little things like that. You want somewhere you can sit on your own to digest it all.”

Mr Kerr said the situation had started to “affect people mentally” at Degarra.

“They have lost absolutely everything. It’s a heartbreaking situation,” he said.

“They want to rebuild their lives but they are still living in the disaster.”

Mr Kerr said emergency shelter sent by the federal government last week did not reach Degarra.

In what was billed as an “Australian first”, the Albanese government announced it had deployed emergency shelters dubbed Humanihuts, with the Defence Force helping deliver a convoy of the containers by barge.

More than 30 huts and six bathrooms were sent to Wujal Wujal, Degarra and Ayton.

“I believe those were for the people to rebuild the region rather than locals themselves,” Mr Kerr said.

Caravans initially set up by the Queensland government were a three-hour walk away from Degarra at Bloomfield, however progress was made when Mr Miles arrived on Tuesday.

Heavy rain is forecast for the Cairns region from Thursday after Cyclone Kirrily crosses the coast.

Mr Miles said on Tuesday more major flooding was not expected for areas that had been devastated by Jasper’s aftermath.

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636

AAP