Stephen Olive and Samantha Boettcher in the wrecked lounge room of their Boorabee Park home. A landslide smashed through the ro
Stephen Olive and Samantha Boettcher in the wrecked lounge room of their Boorabee Park home. A landslide smashed through the ro

KYOGLE COUPLE'S HOME CRUSHED BY MUDSLIDE

bY ANDY PARKS and AMANDA SPROULE andy.parks@northernstar.com.au AS THE region's flood damage bill soars above $30 million, a Kyogle couple's dreams have been shattered.

A few weeks ago, you could fall knee-deep into cracks in Samantha Boettcher and Stephen Olive's backyard of dusty earth.

Now, after a week of wet weather, tonnes of mud have ruined their home.

Just two weeks away from completing their new house, Samantha and Stephen awoke in the early hours of Friday to the sound of the hill that had stood behind them crashing through their roof.

With the entire hill pushing its way through the lounge room and bathroom, Samantha and Stephen snatched up their 19-month-old son Ned and another child, a x friend of the family, and got out of the house as fast as they could.

"It was just a matter of getting out of there," Mr Olive said.

Ms Boettcher burst into tears as she explained how much effort that she and her partner had put into the house and its surrounds, especially given they were owner-builders.

"It was our blood, sweat and tears," she said. The family had just begun moving into the house after living in the shed beside it for two years, and spent their first Christmas there.

The couple went back to living in the shed after the mudslide, but after it also flooded on Friday night they have been left without shelter.

To make things worse, none of their possessions were insured. The house was covered by owner-builder insurance, but the couple were waiting two weeks for that to expire before taking out house and contents insurance.

"I just didn't think something like this could happen so close to finishing," Ms Boettcher said. "We had gone about it the right way. All our plans and building had been approved. I guess it's just a freak of nature."

The couple is hoping the State Government will give them a helping hand, as well as others affected by storms and flooding around the region.

Kyogle mayor Ernie Bennett said the State Disaster Recovery Centre would be setting up a one-stop-shop for people who have been affected by flooding.

The facility will be able to handle inquiries ranging from people who have lost stock who want to talk to the Department of Agriculture, to people needing financial assistance or whitegoods.

It will open tomorrow and be located next to the camping shop at 57a Summerland Way, Kyogle.

"So many people have been affected. The town was a mess on The Flat," Cr Bennett said.

"This is the biggest flood I've ever seen. People who were here in 1954 say it's the biggest they've seen too."

He said the biggest concern for council was the damage to roads and bridges, but they wouldn't have a full assessment until later today.

"A lot of bridges have gone. I have a list of 10 bridges where the approaches have been washed out, but we don't know how many bridges have been destroyed and won't really know until we can do a thorough assessment," Cr Bennet said. "Kilometres of bitumen are buggered. It's going to be very expensive."

Cr Bennett, who lost fences and cattle on his own property, said he was down on the Bruxner Highway on the weekend cutting fences and pushing logs off the road.

"On Sunday the SES and the Rural Fire Service were out doing a fantastic job, and other volunteers were coming down and rolling up their sleeves saying 'how can I help?'" he said.

n Do you have a flood story? Phone 6620 0555 or email news@northernstar.com.au



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