Flood victims left high and dry

ALMOST two years after the floods ravaged Yenda, Noelene Hill is still living in a caravan as she battles her insurer for a payout.

But that’s not the only thing she’s battling – Mrs Hill was diagnosed with bowel cancer in October and has been struggling through rounds of chemotherapy while being forced to live in her backyard.

Mrs Hill’s home, which she shares with her husband Neil Poke, was inundated in March 2012 by not only the flood water, but the sewerage when it overflowed.

Living between the railway tracks, her property acted as a dam and the floodwater did not recede until nine weeks later.

Since then, her old home has been rendered unliveable – the floor has sunk around the footings and some floorboards have split, the walls have moved, the ceiling has warped, the windows rattle and the architraves and cornices are hanging off.

But according to insurer NRMA, the damage was pre-existing.

The insurer offered to repair some damage to the home – which Mrs Hill declined – and have instead offered her a cash settlement of $74,767 – a cheque she has not cashed.

“We had council out here and they basically told us the house needs to be pulled down – they said don’t spend any money on it,” Mr Poke said.

“NRMA reckons the damage was pre-existing but there’s no way – it wasn’t like this before.

“After nine weeks sitting in water, of course the house is going to move – the footings have sunk.”

The couple have been forced to convert their carport into a living space and use the caravan as a bedroom.

Through the summer it has been stiflingly hot, through winter it was bitterly cold and draughty.

After being so ill on Christmas Day she had to return to bed, and losing her much-loved hair to chemo, Mrs Hill has had enough.

“We thought we’d be looked after – we insure everything just for piece of mind,” Mrs Hill said.

“But I feel like I’m being victimised.

“Where’s their compassion? The house is insured for $330,000, I just want what’s owed to me.”

NRMA sent out independent engineers to inspect the property twice and the company has refused to budge on Mrs Hill’s payout.

In a written response to The Area News, an NRMA spokeswoman said Mrs Hill has the option to have her claim reviewed by the Financial Ombudsman.

“We can confirm that we have issued a settlement cheque of $74,767 to Mrs Hill for damage to her home as a result of the flood in March 2012,” she said.

“This was issued on April 4, 2013.

 “We have also paid her the full sum insured under her contents policy. 

“Unfortunately, some of Mrs Hill’s claim was not covered under her policy, including damage to her roof and damage to footings/piers under her property.

“Two independent engineer reports were undertaken to confirm the scope of her claim and whether there was pre-existing damage, one in April 2012 and the other in February 2013.

“Both reports found that the damage to the roof and footings was not caused by the 2012 flood.”

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