Lost memories flood back
By EMMA O'NEILL firstname.lastname@example.org JOSIE ANDERSON fought back tears yesterday as she sat on a plastic chair and watched four Grafton prison inmates clear out the remaining belongings from her Kyogle home of 43 years.
As most Kyogle residents and businesses began moving back into their flood-affected buildings, Mrs Anderson could only watch her home which is likely to be condemned being torn apart.
Water levels rose to almost 1.5 metres inside Josie's lounge room and SES staff warned the 78-year-old not to return because seeing the property would be too distressing.
Mrs Anderson did drive back, however, and was devastated by the state of her house.
This was the house she raised four grandchildren in, a house which survived the 1974 floods and a house that was pulled to the bank of the Richmond River by bullocks more than 100 years ago.
However, it will no longer be Mrs Anderson's home.
"We moved back in after the 1974 floods and only had to replace a few things, but these floods were so much worse, there is no way we can move back this time," she said. "It looks like someone has tried to bake a cake in there. It's just all over the place.
"I just spent about $20,000 on new colour bond fencing and a new verandah."
Mrs Anderson had no idea when she left her house with an overnight bag just before the flood peaked, it would be the last time she would walk out her front door.
"I thought I'd be gone for a few nights so I only packed a few clothes," she said.
Mrs Anderson decided to stay at her daughter's home for a few days after fearing she would get stuck in her house once the viaduct in Kyogle became submerged.
She didn't pack her tins of photographs, her favourite watches or her cupboards of clothes all of which are now destroyed.
Inmates from Grafton prison were on day release to assist with the flood recovery process in Kyogle and cleaning out Mrs Anderson's home was their first project.
Each of the four inmates, who had spent four hours throwing out Mrs Anderson's destroyed belongings, shook Mrs Anderson's hand and sympathised with her loss when the job was complete.
Mrs Anderson said she had moved into a small unit in Kyogle during the week and was currently renting the property with her grandson.
She hopes her insurance policy will cover the financial losses associated with loosing her home, but said it was hard to leave behind so many memories.
"At least the kids won't be fighting over my belongings any more," joked the 78-year-old grandmother.