Yenda Floods – The Aftermath

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By John Dufour

On the 5th of March Griffith and its surrounding areas were hit by the floods that devastated Yenda (10km before Griffith). The people in Yenda were given 48 hours to collect their belongings and leave, but a lot of people didn’t have trailers or anywhere to put their belongings and they were the unfortunate ones that lost everything.

I went to Griffith in April to see family and friends for Easter, I always stay with my sister when I go there and I found out when I arrived that her best friend had been living with her for the last three weeks, in a two bedroom house. My sister’s best friend, Cathleen, was in one of the rooms with two children; a five year old girl and an eleven year old boy, as well as all the belongings that she could grab when the floods hit Yenda.

There’s a shed attached to the house which is where my niece stayed with her mother; my sister. My sister donated her bed to me and my daughter while we were there.

I went to Cathleen’s house in Yenda, the water had receded by then and the only water left was what was on the side of the roads. The telltale signs that the flood had hit were the water marks left on fences and  houses, belongings, carpet, kids toys, bedding, anything that was left in a house was deemed damaged and affected by sewage water, everything had to be thrown out.

Cathleen shared her idea with me that she was trying to set up a makeshift living area for herself and the children down the back of her property, there was already a shed 3x5m in length with a roller door and a side door, so she bought a caravan and put that length ways alongside the shed giving her about 1.200m for a hallway between the two – The caravan was 6m in length. She had also borrowed another van for storage and put that across the front of the shed (in front of the other van) giving herself about 2.6m to call a lounge room.

Cathleen wanted to just throw a tarp over the lot and call that home, but the problem with that was that winter was coming and how warm were they going to be. I told her that we could build a roof structure over the lot and put in side walls and a front door; so the next day I went to dad’s house, picked up some power tools, screws, bolts and nuts, power cords, and my older sister donated five bags of Bradford bats insulation. I went to Bunnings Warehouse and bought another five bags of bats insulation, some 2×4 timber and some 3mm ply 1200x2400mm, to clad the shed.

When I got back to the house we started on the floor; we levelled the dirt and laid plastic pallets down as a base, then we laid yellow tongue sheeting on top and screwed it down. I pulled her pergola apart and used the 90x90mm uprights around the van, then I used the 200x30mm as fascia boards to tie it all in, and I then screwed in all the 2×4 for the roof. Cathleen had found an elderly man selling second-hand roofing iron for $3 each so she bought ten sheets from him; we had just enough to cover the lounge room. Cathleen had a wooden shed roof which I used to cover the walk way between the shed and caravan. I built an end wall down the hallway to stop drafts and Cathleen went and bought another eight sheets of iron which covered the lounge room end wall as well as the front entrance. I took the security door off the front of the house and screwed that in so we were able to lock the building up. We then looked in the shed; in the kid’s bedroom we taped the Bradford bats (insulation) on the walls first then started screwing MDF sheets on as walls, we then worked on the ceiling and did the same thing. When the kids room was insulated it needed carpet (which I bought cheap in Melbourne), I made sure that I had enough to do the hallway and lounge room then I laid some plastic down to stop moisture coming through and wrecking the carpet. Sealing the van and stopping drafts was fun as I used left over corrugated iron sheets; moulding and shaping them, I did all the bottom first then I did the top, cutting curved shapes with an angle grinder was a challenge but doable. I was glad that we had silicon as that filled a lot of gaps that we found. When the roof started leaking, due to the sheets being old, we threw a tarp over the whole thing that fixed the problem.

It’s good now to see that Cathleen and the children have their independence back, she worked on the building after I left and isolated the ceiling in the lounge and hallway as it was getting to cold.

So good luck Cathleen, I did the best I could with what I had.

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