Brisbane flood victims beg council to reinstate Voluntary Home Buy-Out Scheme to avert continued cycle of losses

Owners of flood-devastated homes are calling on the Lord Mayor of Brisbane to reinstate a voluntary buy-back scheme so their destroyed homes can be taken off the market and turned into parkland.

Rocklea resident Luke Greaves and his partner lost everything when the low-rise house they bought in 2016 was submerged in floodwaters for three days.

Mr Greaves said that although he knew flooding was a possibility, the information available when the house was purchased did not show the full extent of the risk.

“The house right now was submerged worse than the 2011 flood,” he said.

Several properties around Mr Greaves’ home were acquired by the council and demolished under the voluntary home buying scheme before it was scrapped.

The father of three young children said that given the extent of the flooding last week, voluntary buyouts should return.

“Seeing the waters coming in, I think it would be best if future residents weren’t impacted by it,” he said.

He also said he was “shameful” that the council’s flood-resistant homes program had not been rolled out in flood-prone Rocklea.

Homeowners in parts of Rocklea raised their homes after the 2011 flood. Their living quarters were spared. (ABC News: Emma Pollard)

Under the scheme, guest homeowners receive financial assistance to adapt their homes through measures such as raising them.

Mr Greaves said he had applied to be included in the scheme since its inception, but said the council told him Rocklea was not sufficiently affected by flooding and did not meet the criteria.

“It’s shameful to some extent…and I would invite the Lord Mayor, with my [local] advisor, to come and see the property and understand the impact of flooding on the community.

“Homes are uninhabitable, unsafe for months on end, and that’s a problem for the system as a whole,” he said.

Flooded house despite the assurances of the real estate agent

A woman standing in front of a crumbling mattress outside her house
Sandy Xia lost everything in the flood and has no insurance for her home in Rocklea. (ABC News: Emma Pollard)

Mr. Greaves’ neighbor, Sandy Xia, is in an even worse situation because she has no insurance.

Her house was so flooded that parts of the ceiling collapsed and there are holes in the walls.

She, her partner and her baby now live in a hotel.

Ms. Xia said when she bought the house in 2015, a real estate agent told her that floodwaters would never enter the house.

“At the time it was said that the 2011 flood was a flood every 30 years, I thought I would be living somewhere else in 30 years,” she said.

Ms. Xia said she doesn’t know where to start with her home which, more than a week after the flood, doesn’t even have electricity.

“Redemption is the best option, it’s the best thing I can think of,” she said.

“To redeem this property so that we can start finding a place with no flood risk or a low flood risk area.”

Moorooka Ward Councilor Steve Griffiths has long called on Brisbane City Council to reinstate the Voluntary Home Purchase Scheme.

“It was cut by this mayor and there are so many homes and so many people who want to participate in a voluntary buyout so that we can remove the most affected homes,” he said.

“In the past it worked on a voluntary basis where residents approached the council, the council assessed the need and how deep they flood…this is for homes where water is entering their living spaces “said Mr. Griffiths.

He said the council was responsible for originally approving residential development in the low area.

“I believe the board has to take responsibility to fix the problem, to eliminate the problem so that we don’t have a problem in the future,” he said.

Mr Griffiths said he had been unable to expand the flood-resistant homes scheme in Rocklea.

“One of the hardest hit neighborhoods in the city, I couldn’t get this program, it would benefit the people here, many of whom struggle to meet day-to-day expenses and can’t afford to pay. ‘raise their house.’

Brisbane Lord Mayor ‘will consider all options’

Asked yesterday if he would consider reinstating the voluntary buy-back program, Mayor Adrian Schrinner said “a number of residents” in flood-affected areas did not want to sell but that “we will look into all options”.

A flooded house.
Floodwaters flooded the house where Luke Greaves lives with his partner and three young children.(Provided: Luke Greaves)

“Yes, there may be opportunities to buy some flood-affected properties, but a buy-back program is not a silver bullet, it’s just one of many things we need to look at,” he said. said Mr. Schrinner.

He said he was “very keen” to make sure the council got support from other levels of government.

“There are a lot of different things we can do, there are a lot of different programs we can continue to put in place and we’re really keen to make sure that all levels of government are helping people build back better,” he said. he declared.

Deputy Prime Minister Steven Miles said the state government was considering all “appropriate” options.

“We’re only doing disaster assessments now, so it will take some time to assess both the level of damage in those places and the best and most appropriate resilience projects,” Miles said.

“In the past we have seen small takeovers where there were no alternative options available, but they are expensive and they obviously displace people.

“We will consider all appropriate options, including allowing building modifications, spot draws and other stormwater protection.”

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