A family of five, including three children younger than 10, have lost everything in the far north Queensland floods, as survival stories begin to emerge from the unprecedented natural disaster.
The young family* are lucky to be alive after being forced onto the roof of their Holloways Beach home as ex-tropical cyclone Jasper smashed rainfall records and flooded parts of Cairns and the state’s far north at levels never before seen.
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Their home was destroyed, along with their family cars and all their belongings, as the floodwaters rose on Sunday — just a week before Christmas.
“These are two of the hardest-working people I have ever known,” family friend Amy-Lee Robinson told 7NEWS.com.au.
“Everyone works hard to get their first home, car … and build a life for their kids.
“But this couple, they have scraped together everything they have had with such humble strength to buy that home for their kids and to renovate it.”
Robinson said the family had only finished painting the last room in their newly renovated home last month.
It was less than an hour from the family first noticing water rising outside before the house was inundated.
The flood waters rose rapidly within the home, forcing the family up onto the roof. Credit: SuppliedThe family captured photos of the floodwater inundating their street. Credit: Supplied
“Their experience while it was happening was very terrifying, as you can imagine,” Robinson said.
“They had 45 minutes from noticing the water coming towards the house to the time of flooding and racing the kids … upstairs.”
Robinson said the family’s loved ones “lived the disaster with them” as they shared a video of the rising water with family and friends through social media — followed by another video of their rescue, and later the aftermath and extent of the damage.
All of the family’s possessions were damaged or destroyed in the flood. Credit: Supplied
The young family were forced onto the roof of their home from where they were eventually rescued by SES crews.
Robinson said seeing the kids on the video updates was “heart-wrenching”.
She said the family are now in “survival mode” and the home they worked so hard to buy is unliveable.
The home will need to be gutted and rebuilt. Credit: Supplied
They have been told it will need to be gutted and rebuilt.
Robinson has started a GoFundMe to help support the family with their immediate needs, while they sort out their insurance claim and begin the process of rebuilding their home.
“I have been holding a donation drive with the help of many of my friends and family and we have successfully provided clothes for them and the kids, new Christmas presents, books and toys for all three kids as well as non-perishable food,” Robinson said.
However, Robinson said the family had hauled at least half of the donations back to Holloways Beach to share with their neighbours and others who were also affected by the flood.
The family had just finished renovating their ‘forever home’ when the flood damaged it beyond repair. Credit: Supplied
They are currently back in Holloways Beach helping to clean out their neighbours’ homes.
“Despite having gone through such loss, the entire community, not only in Holloways but across all of Cairns, has come together in such numbers and with such generosity that it makes me so proud to be a part of it,” Robinson said.
* The family have chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.