Families facing homes scramble
THE sight of 15 people all crammed into the one tiny duplex might seem odd during normal times in Ipswich.
But these aren't normal times.
The Togia and Afamasaga families are just two of many across the city who have been forced to co-exist in cramped surroundings after the floods.
Sa and Fia Togia and their five children – the last of whom was born under extraordinary circumstances during the floods – lost most of their possessions when the Bundamba Creek swelled and swamped their home at Diane Court, North Booval.
Like so many others, the young family has since discovered their insurance will not cover the damage and it will take a number of months to make their home liveable again.
While they have been cursed in so many ways, they are also lucky in that they have a generous relative in Tiresa Afamasaga who, despite housing five of her own children, has welcomed them into her modest three-bedroom home at Raceview.
With five children from each family, plus three adults, that makes a total of 13 people living in the house. Plus regular visits from Mrs Togia's mum and dad makes it 15.
But Mr Togia said all family members were happy to be together and in good health.
“Luckily there is an ensuite bathroom, so while it's fairly crowded it's still manageable,” he said.
“The kids range in age from newborn to 16, so they do stand on each other's toes now and again, but mostly they're sticking together through hard times.”
Mr Togia has returned to his job as a security guard, but said the prospect of being able to afford a rental property for his family to stay until their house was fixed was daunting.
“We've been looking around, but the rents are too expensive. Most of what we saw was between $350 and $390 per week,” he said.
Real Estate Institute of Queensland Ipswich zone chairman and PRD National principal Peter Mendoza said most cheap rental properties had been filled after agents rushed to relocate their existing tenants.
Agents like PRD, LJ Hooker and Professionals Thorntons lost hundreds of rental properties in the floods.
“We had 60 properties affected by the floods, 32 of those were badly affected; unliveable,” Mr Mendoza said.
“We relocated those tenants to other rental properties, plus we helped a few others along the way.”
Mr Mendoza said PRD only had a couple of “very expensive” rental properties left.
LJ Hooker Ipswich was in a similar situation, after losing 40 properties with severe flood damage.
Thorntons real estate spokeswoman Charlotte Thornton said at least 60 rental homes were damaged.
“We have had an unprecedented level of inquiries from prospective tenants looking to rent properties,” she said.
The Togia family expressed its gratitude for the generosity shown by the community since The Queensland Times first ran a story on the birth of their son Mataio
www.qldfloods.org housing hotline: 1300 078 659 or 07 3040 4640.
Get Up housing hotline: 1300 998 603
Oz Flood Help: www.OzFloodHelp.org.au