Kaycee just wants her home back after it went under in the Logan River flood

HIGHER GROUND: Kaycee Bentley of North Maclean and her horse Toby surveying their flood-damaged home. Photo: Michael Burge
HIGHER GROUND: Kaycee Bentley of North Maclean and her horse Toby surveying their flood-damaged home. Photo: Michael Burge

WHEN Kaycee Bentley purchased her home on Beryl Parade at North Maclean 18 months ago, she was assured it would never go under in the event of flooding.

The Logan River borders Kaycee’s land, yet from her current temporary accommodation – a caravan next to her uninhabitable home – there is no sign of the water.

Seven weeks ago it was another story: “The neighbours came over to wake me up and we scrambled to get out what we could,” Kaycee said.

“I was frantic to get the animals out, and the trailers.”

Kaycee Bentley shows her flood-damaged property at North Maclean.

Kaycee Bentley shows her flood-damaged property at North Maclean.

A small-engine mechanic, many tools of Kaycee’s trade were damaged, but it was her animals she was most concerned about – her horse, Toby, and her dog, Edge.

“I lived over there in a trailer in the park for two weeks, and this lady put a call out for help on Facebook for me, because I couldn’t leave, I had my horses and some stuff that we saved, and no security,” she said.

Kaycee contacted the Times when she was faced with significant delays in her insurance claims. The day I met her, electricians had just reconnected the lights in the house, a washed-out shell with just one usable space, Kaycee’s bathroom and laundry.

“I’ve been cleaning it all up since the flood, but this is the first time I can switch a light on,” she said, having waited until three weeks ago for two power points, and last week for hot water so she can take a shower.

Drinking water remains a problem. “I used all of one water tank and switched over to the big one, but I can’t use it as it was compromised in the flood. I can only use it to clean with, I can only drink bottled water.”

Kaycee’s insurance company Suncorp made the decision to compensate her for the maxiumum amount her contents were insured for, and are paying for the lease on the caravan, but her building insurance claim is still delayed.

“We’re waiting for the auditors of the company quoting on the repairs. It’s taken them weeks and weeks to get a quote because they’ve doubled-up on things,” she said.

“As you can see the mould is coming straight through the walls. They need to be torn apart.

“I had to get rid of the kitchen because it was making me sick. If you stick your nose in that dumpster you’ll smell it, it’s rank.”

According to Kaycee, Suncorp didn’t send an assessor to inspect her damaged contents for six days.

“By then all the helpers had gone. My house was still standing there waiting and I wasn’t allowed to touch it.”

Kaycee was stoic during my visit, and clear about her immediate needs: “I’d like to get back into my house because I can’t lock up, I can’t leave my dog here,” she said.

“I’m not happy, my dog’s not happy and we’re going into winter, so it’s not exactly warm.”

A spokesman for Suncorp who is aware of Kaycee’s case said the company is working to process more than 15,000 cyclone and flood-related claims in the wake of Cyclone Debbie.

“Recovering from an event of this size can take between six and eight months and we value our customers’ patience as we work quickly through the recovery process,” he said. 

“As always, we remain committed to looking after our customers and supporting communities until they are back on their feet.”

Kaycee has a simple message for others who might be faced with her situation: “Prepare earlier. I was told the river wouldn’t come up. I wasn’t prepared at all”.

“If it wasn’t for the neighbours, I would have drowned,” she said.