One couple, Lee and Jan Langford, moved into the street in 2000 but now rent their Ryan Street home to students. The Langfords were back on Monday to lend a hand.
“We knew from before, and you just got on with it. It’s like we say to our kids: Shit happens, it’s how you handle it. It’s damage management,” Ms Langford said.
The Langfords say insurance companies should face scrutiny again after many companies refused to pay out flood or storm insurance in 2011, when we were last flooded.
“We were lucky and Lee had taken photographs of the water coming up through the grates and it was clean,” Ms Langford said.
“So it wasn’t from the river. For us, it was stormwater damage. We ended up getting a small payout.”
The couple believe Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk should consider a Queensland flood appeal similar to 2011, to help those who will undoubtedly need help.
“I think the conditions are no different,” Ms Langford said.
“People did not get much of a chance to get their belongings out. We’ve been told about the house next door here on Ryan Street where their dog came in at 2am and woke them up. It was waist deep. They would have had no chance to get things out.”
Jason and Rebecca Petzke paused as they headed to the shops to look at a line of cars barely visible in the floodwater.
Mr Petzke backed the Langfords’ call for a flood appeal.
“I work in construction and there are lots of companies and workers that are going to struggle after these floods, particularly after two years of COVID,” he said.
“So yes. I definitely think it is something they should think about.”
Earlier, our neighbor Mark Wheelhouse jumped from his front deck after sleeping upstairs while the water filled the ground floor beneath him.
“I slept on and off for a couple of hours; then I had a couple of smokes and walked around a little and saw how the water levels were going inside,” he said.
“When I was inside resting the water must have come up three feet or more.
“I woke up at 7am and thought with all the water inside I’m going to have to jump off the balcony.”
He put dry clothes and his wallet inside a plastic bag and jumped or “scrambled down the balcony”.
“Then I waded through the water past my car and the guys across the road were awake and were taking photos.”
Across Ryan Street, Terry – or “Jingles” as he is known – told how he scrambled to repair a Harley-Davidson bike he crashed last week, just so he could get it clear of the rising water at 9.45pm on Sunday.
“Talk about a biker build-off,” the good-humoured, Muswellbrook-born bloke said, referring to a popular YouTube competition where bikers get a fortnight to completely rebuild a motorcycle.
“I just had to really go for it to get my bike ready. And I did. I just rode her out gently as the water was coming up. That just after 9 on Sunday.”
In the newer apartments close to the river – long-term residents refer to the area as “West of Montague Road” – cars were parked on the footpath outside the new Woolworths as floods filled the basement car parks and cut off Ferry Road and Duncan Street .
West End Community Association president Selina More said questions about how and when Energex turned off the power to the suburb, and how that impacted the apartments’ occupants, deserved scrutiny.
“They turned it off on Saturday from about 11am without notice. But particularly for the area, west of Montague Road, there’s about 3000 apartments in five streets down there. They are not going to have power for several days. That raises questions of fire compliance and ventilation.”
In this area between Montague Road and the swollen river nervous people were carrying out belongings, while 40 to 50 more sat charging their phones at the nearby shopping centre.
One couple, students who arrived from Colombia a week ago, sat on the ground at the Montague Road shopping center huddled around a laptop, powered from a wall socket.
“Our building just does not have electricity,” Mel Socarras said.
“We just don’t know when they are going to connect it. Energex said it can take a couple of days.”