Christmas Miracle: New Home for Flood-Affected Locals

Published 20 December 2022

Resilient Homes Fund

A Moreton Bay family who lost everything in the February/March floods have been given a new start at life and a new home just in time for Christmas, thanks to the jointly funded Commonwealth and State government $741 million Resilient Homes Fund.

Mayor Peter Flannery said Council was partnering with the state and federal governments to purchase homes from residents whose properties were severely damaged during this year’s floods and were at the greatest risk of flooding again.

“Miika and Melina Puhakka lived in one of the houses I visited in Major Street, Deception Bay earlier this year that had over half a metre of water throughout the home and it destroyed just about everything,” he said.

“After nine months of living in between various accommodations that weren’t suitable for them and their son, Council moved to prioritise the purchase of their home, so they could afford to buy a new home that was out of a flood zone and just in time for Christmas.

“I’d like to thank the state and federal governments for making this funding available for us to target the homeowners who are most at risk from future flood issues so they can get a new start in life.

“Once the property is purchased and the settlement is finalised, those houses will be demolished, and the land will be rezoned for non-residential uses, so no one has to go through a flood on that property again.”

Federal Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt said this was a great example of three levels of government working together to deliver a timely solution to residents who’d suffered during the floods.

“This voluntary home buy-back program not only improves the resilience of communities impacted by floods but it’s positively life-changing for the individual homeowners who’ve been impacted,” he said.

“It’s great to see all three levels of government working together to make a real difference in the lives of these people by empowering them to voluntarily move out of harm’s way.”

Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for the Queensland Reconstruction Authority Steven Miles said this was the first offer to be accepted in the Moreton Bay region.

“It’s estimated over 30 Moreton Bay homeowners of flood impacted homes will receive valuations and offers as part of the Voluntary Home Buy-Back program,” Mr Miles said.

“Valuations are continuing across Moreton Bay in the suburbs of Beachmere, Burpengary, Caboolture, Clontarf, Deception Bay, Eatons Hill, Morayfield, Rothwell, Whiteside, and Woody Point.

“We will continue to work hard to progress homeowners through the program to allow them to either move into a new home or make their existing home as flood resilient as possible.”

Melina Puhakka said she and her family were able to move into their brand-new home thanks to the help of Moreton Bay Regional Council to push through their settlement.

“We pretty much lost everything, there wasn’t much that was salvageable,” she said.

“We had 63cm of black sewerage water come through the house and then the mould took over. We even lost all of our clothes.

“We went into emergency accommodation through our insurer for two months, which was a single motel room that only had a microwave and a fridge, so we lived off microwave meals.

“This was my seven-year-old’s first year of school, and he was only at school for four weeks this year. It’s been tough, but he’s handled it really well.

“We’re really happy with the council how they were able to work with us to get the settlement finalised, they were beyond remarkable.

“Christmas won’t be how it normally looks, but I don’t care as long as we’re together, safe and in our own space I’ll be happy. We’ll definitely be celebrating this time.”