Goodna resident Cuong Van Tran, known as ‘Chin’, has been trying to rebuild his home so his family can return to normal life.
Goodna resident Cuong Van Tran, known as ‘Chin’, has been trying to rebuild his home so his family can return to normal life. David Nielsen

Going still tough on the Terrace

TO say the people of Goodna are keeping their chins up in the flood aftermath is the understatement of all time.

The example of Brisbane Terrace's Cuong Van Tran, known universally as 'Chin', is a prime example of that - despite the heartache he and his family still have to endure.

Chin, wife Nam and 10-year-old daughter Men lost everything in the floods and the family was forced to sleep in a tent.

Chin had paid his insurance premium, but is still locked in a dispute with Suncorp over payment.

On top of that, Chin moved all of his stock from his CP Auto Parts business to his house three weeks before the flood. All of that also was lost.

But now Chin, with the help of friends and an army of angelic volunteers, has made stunning progress on his home.

Chin hopes to have the revamp of the inside of his five bedroom, two bathroom house completed by Christmas.

"I work day and night," Chin says. "Sometimes I work until 9 o'clock at night and then I am up again at 4 o'clock. A lot of people run away, but I don't. If I have a problem, I can sort it out. I'll call my friends and they help."

Chin's attitude is uplifting.

"I'm human...but I am alright," he says. "I get tired sometimes, but I keep working. I have to keep going for my wife and daughter."

CHIN spoke of the heartache he shared with his daughter Men on the day the water subsided - January 15.

"It was her birthday," he says. "I cried... but then my friends had a surprise party for her."

To add insult to injury, the Building Services Authority (BSA) is investigating Chin to determine what work has been done by licensed builders and what he has done himself.

It is Chin's friends such as David Baird and Colin Lascassie who have been a tower of strength throughout the whole ordeal.

Mr Lascassie is adamant that Chin has not breached any BSA rules, and is preparing a document to prove it. Chin has done the tiling in the house, but that will not take him over the stipulated amount.

"Anything over $11,500 and you've got to get a qualified builder, but most of it has been volunteer work," he says.

"I've got to put a letter in to them (the BSA) to say what work he has done and what the volunteers have done.

"Why are we helping him? Because he needs the help. He's got no job and he's working from daylight to dark. And he has helped a lot of people in the community himself."

Chin has not changed his insurance story at any stage over the past nine months.

He said he was paying about $580 to $600 in the years before 2010-2011, so he thought that when he handed over $600-plus at Goodna's Suncorp office in April 2010 that he was covered for the year.

Suncorp has no record of the transaction. All of Chin's dealings are in cash, so that is not unusual for him.

Suncorp has since investigated his case and sent him a letter saying he owed $1224.93 for the year and that he was uninsured.

GOODNA councillor Paul Tully has a possible explanation for why Chin's premium went up, and adds that Suncorp must investigate his case further.

"When Suncorp applied universal flood cover three or four years ago, a year after that they increased premiums for people in flood areas," Cr Tully said.

"Suncorp has a duty to have a full investigation of the matter. This person claims that the money was paid in good faith, and he was never advised that the policy was cancelled.

"Suncorp should not be giving him the brush-off. Suncorp has got all the publicity for the good things they did for flood victims, but now there are cracks starting to emerge in the way Suncorp is dealing with some of its customers."

Cr Tully said Chin, a Suncorp customer for eight years, should call for a formal internal review, and after that he had the option of going to the insurance ombudsman.

CR Tully said the riverside area of Goodna was also showing plenty of character in dealing with the flood aftermath.

"What we've found in the last three to four months is that a lot more people have started moving back into their homes," he said.

"There has been a big boost of reconstruction activity, which is good because it means more people are able to move back pretty quickly.

"I think by the anniversary of the flood in January we will probably have over 80% of the people with their homes restored - of the ones that are going to be restored

"We are approaching the wet season again and people are concerned that the dams are properly managed - and Wivenhoe Dam in particular.

"There is not an air of despondency. There is an air of confidence that we have turned the corner. I think that people are very grateful for the help that they have got. The whole area is looking a lot better."

"Cr Tully is not surprised that Chin and his family have attracted plenty of support.

His highly visible message of appreciation to volunteers out the front of his house after the floods won many hearts.

"He painted a thank you sign on the large tree out the front, and attracted national media attention as well."

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