Tradies repair a roof in Rosewood damaged in the Halloween hailstorms.
Tradies repair a roof in Rosewood damaged in the Halloween hailstorms.

’Forgotten’ town faces unique challenges in hail recovery

ALMOST four months on from the Halloween hailstorms which battered Ipswich, the resilient rural community of Rosewood is still facing its own unique recovery challenges.

According to the Insurance Council of Australia, the total damage bill from the storms last year has exceeded $800 million with more than 33,500 claims.

Already a cornerstone of the town on the main street, the Rosewood Community Centre was an important port of call for locals impacted by the severe weather event.

“There was a lot of shock because no one had ever seen that sort of damage before and hail that size before,” centre manager Donna Hanlon said.

“There were a lot of neighbours helping neighbours.

“We were fortunate because we didn’t have too many roof collapses.

“It was a lot of car damage. Windscreens back and front were smashed and a lot of roofs were dented.

“I don’t think anyone without a garage escaped damage (to their cars).

“The SES did a wonderful job coming in and getting those tarps on.”

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To make matters worse, another hailstorm rolled through on Friday, November 13.

Mrs Hanlon said with budgets already tight, some local residents didn’t have cars or homes covered by insurance.

Department of Communities staff arrived in Rosewood a couple of weeks after landing in badly affected Springfield Lakes.

“Because we’re in that rural area people need two vehicles to actually get access to employment out of town that is not on the railway line,” she said.

“There are a few people that are still being supported by that program.

“One thing we have noticed is the insurance companies have gone to getting people to do the terms of agreement with their builders and they’re emailing them through.

“We’ve got a lot of seniors out here so they haven’t even got email or they’re reading a document that is so wordy that they’re getting lost in it.

“We have one lady who still hasn’t signed hers because she is in fear of it.

“Builders are giving updates on their schedule by the internet or email. Some of our people don’t have that capacity.”

Mrs Hanlon said local community groups provided funds so people could pay costly excesses to get windscreens fixed or even money for fuel so they could get to work.

Ipswich City Council acted quickly to sweep tacks and nails left on the road after residents carted waste to dumps.

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She was disappointed insurance companies did not come out to Rosewood as they did in Springfield Lakes.

“A lot of their excesses were $800 and that can be a bit tricky to come up with that on short notice,” she said.

“It’s a resilient community and I think we’re coming through it. There was only a couple of houses that weren’t liveable.

“It’s all those little things that add up to make a supportive community.

“We’ve got a lot of builders in town right now.”

Rosewood resident of 13 years Geoff Reimers said three of his cars were “absolutely trashed” in the hailstorms with two written off.

His claim was settled before Christmas.

Mr Reimers, who works for a loss adjusting firm in Brisbane and has been working in the insurance industry for 15 years, said he was concerned about the behaviour of some building companies in the wake of the storms.

“What’s happening is these companies are coming in and they are removing the solar panels themselves,” he said.

“It makes it safe but it also makes it impossible for any other company to be able to quote on the solar.

“Basically they are creating a monopoly for themselves where no other company gets to quote.

“One quote came across our desk recently and we were able to supply the same system for half what the quote was.”

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Mr Reimers said the hail was so damaging, the once olive green Colorbond roof on his rental home was now white.

“It’s taken all of the colour out of the Colorbond which is something I didn’t think was possible,” he said.

“The solar panels that were damaged were so bad that we’re still picking up glass out of the lawn.

“When it happened all the attention from the insurance companies was on Springfield Lakes, and Rosewood as far as I’m concerned was the forgotten suburb.

“Just about every roof in Rosewood was damaged whether they were Colorbond, tiles or corrugated iron.

“In our street there’d be probably 100 houses and I would say of the iron roofs about four or five have been replaced and probably two or three tiled roofs have been replaced.

“We’ve just been forgotten.”

Jordan MP Charis Mullen said she would soon have a summary report from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority and the Department of Communities after their visit to Springfield over the past couple of weeks.

“That will give us a really good understanding of how people are placed, particularly around insurance claims,” she said.

“That seems to be the biggest issue now, this delay we’re seeing with insurers.

“Once we get a better understanding we’ll be in a better position to go back to the insurers and ask them to find out what’s really happening on the ground.”

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.



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