‘I lost everything’: Why is it so hard to get the flood grants?

ABOVE: Kerz Lake is trying hard to get her life back on track after the floods. Photo: Susanna Freymark

Susanna Freymark

Kerz Lake is one of thousands who lost everything in the floods.

And she is one of thousands applying, waiting and hoping to get one of the flood recovery grants to get her life back on track.

The Wiradjuri woman had finally found a home when she rented a house in North Lismore a year ago.

Then came the February 28 gigantic flood.

“All my stuff is gone,” Kerz said.

“I lost $100,000 in music gear, artefacts, art and other stuff.”

Kerz’s muddy belongings.

Kerz is now living in a rental in Kyogle that finishes at the end of June.

“It’s like living in limbo,” she said.

Kerz works in community development at Kyogle Together, covering Bonalbo, Tabulam, Muli Muli and Kyogle.

“My work anchors me,” she said.

After the Lismore flood, a GoFundMe campaign was set up for Kerz and her neighbours. Kerz got $5000.

She bought a campervan with the money.

Her “bed on wheels” is security if she can’t find another rental.

Kerz’s house in Lismore.

She received the first $1000 disaster grant and then a further $2000 when it was awarded to all those impacted by the disaster.

She also received $500 from Red Cross and $500 from the Salvos.

That is $4000.

Despite applying for the $20,000 Back Home grant and many others she thought she would be eligible for, Kerz has not heard a thing.

“Renters have the worse deal,” she said.

“Renters get the least airtime. We’ve got nowhere to go.’

Kerz doesn’t get rental support.

Three months after the flood she is still proving to Service NSW that she can’t live in her North Lismore house.

“I have supplied interior and exterior photos,” she said.

Everything has been ripped out of the rental where she lived. There is now a fence around the house.

“I can’t get to my letterbox,” she said.

Kerz’s Lismore rental is fenced off.

Kerz is in a much better emotional state than where she was three months ago. Immediately after the flood she was in shock and it showed in memory loss.

“If you told me something, in a minute I would have forgotten it.”

Her memory has improved, she is working and she has a campervan to sleep in if she has to.

But Kerz is tired. The struggle to get flood recovery money is exhausting. Like the thousands of other displaced people after the floods, Kerz simply wants a home.

This story has been sent to State MP Janelle Saffin, Federal MP Kevin Hogan, State MP Chris Gulaptis, Premier Dominic Perrottet and Service NSW.

If you have been successful or unsuccessful in getting a flood recovery grant of any kind, contact us so we can tell your story. Email indynr.com@gmail.com

Books and artworks belong to Kerz were destroyed in the floods.
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