Defiant homeowners who live in one of Australia’s most flood-prone regions have explained why they refuse to move, although some say their homes are so damaged the government should buy them out.
Residents of the bowl-like Hawkesbury Nepean valley faced life-threatening flood conditions at the start of July, with 50,000 people placed under evacuation orders.
Observers look at the facts, and the images of homes and streets barely visible above a sea of dirty water and ask why they don’t just leave?
But it’s not that simple for many locals.Some are unable to leave because they can’t find a buyer for their home, despite feeling traumatised and exhausted.
Many others just don’t want to go because they love the area so much.
They remain devoted to the Hawkesbury region and know that – outside of floods – they get to enjoy the kind of tranquil lifestyle that city dwellers lost decades ago and now pay thousands to find on holiday.
Defiant homeowners who live in one of Australia’s most flood-prone regions have explained why they refuse to move. Rebecca Bont (pictured) a single mum who lives beside the Colo River said the beauty of the region makes the flood risk worth it
Although floods have traumatised many in the Hawkesbury, situs slot terbaru they know they have a lifestyle most days that thousands of other Aussies can only get by going on holiday (Pictured Ms Bont’s children kayaking in the Colo River)
Hawkesbury mum Kate Smith says friendships made through pain and heartache endure despite the floods (Pictured, lock children sit on the banks of the Hawkesbury River)
Residents of the bowl-like Hawkesbury Nepean valley faced life-threatening flood conditions at the start of July, with 50,000 people placed under evacuation orders
Dawnmarie Brennan, a Canadian ex-pat who met her husband as a backpacker while he was riding a motorbike on the Nullarbor plain, wants the dam levels lowered to stop another repeat of damage from the third flood she’s experienced in 18 months.
Like many locals, Brennan believes lowering the level of the dam to about 70 per cent full when heavy rain is forecast will stop the need for extra water being released from the dam back into rivers after days of rain.
Because their home is up a road, it escaped the water, but the family lost two cabins, a gazebo, a car and a boat.
But she says the family won’t be leaving.
‘A lot of friends said, “I guess you’re leaving now? I said, “no, why would we do that?” Mrs Brennan told Daily Mail Australia.
‘When it’s over, we’ll sit with here with a wine on our jetskis and keep making great new memories.’
The lifestyle for children who live by the Hawkesbury make the floods worth it, said mum Rebecca Bont (pictured, Ms Bont’s children and friends playing in the Colo River)
Ms Bont sets up a spot by the Colo river to relax as her children play
‘This is why we stay,’ said Hawkesbury woman Christina Myron. ‘Look at our view.It brings me so much peace’
‘When the first big flood came three years ago I shed a lot of tears. It’s the clean-up that really kills you.
‘But the boys said it’s just stuff; we can rebuild.So we did.
‘We are strong; we will survive this and more.’
Mrs Brennan said she and her husband moved to Leeton 25 years ago, and ‘we knew the river flooded’.
‘Yes, we have floods, but California has earthquakes, Texas has hurricanes, and people still choose to live in those places.
‘We are not going anywhere.We love it here, and we choose to be right beside the river.’
‘When it’s over we’ll sit with here with a wine on our jetskis and keep making great new memories,’ said Canadian expat Dawnmarie Brennan (pictured, Ms Brennan’s family jetskiing in the Hawkesbury river at Leeton)
Mrs Brennan and her husband Neil relax by the river as the sun sets
Mrs Brennan and her husband Neil with their three sons at home at Leeton
Rebecca Bont, a single mum who lives beside the Colo River told Daily Mail Australia the beauty of the Hawkesbury makes the risk of flooding, however traumatic, worth it.
‘If you choose to live in an apartment in Hurstville, you probably won’t ever have to clean up from a flood,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘But if you live on the Colo River, you will experience the most wonderful summers swimming in crystal clear water, barbecues with family, kids playing and laughing til dark and conversations over a campfire and under the stars.’
‘Both properties probably cost the same to buy or rent, it’s just personal choice.Those who live in a flood zone do so weighing up that the beauty of their area is worth the normally uncommon flooding.
A New Year’s Eve family party at the Brennan’s riverside cabin
The same cabin underwater during 2020 flooding, which destroyed the building
Mrs Brennan’s sons rebuilt the destroyed building after flooding in 2020
‘Most of the year, we get to experience amazing caves, bushwalks and local waterfalls, and the kids are usually all outside, none of them on devices.
‘There’s often 11 kids here at our place as it’s great to play together, it’s a great life for kids.’
Hawkesbury mum Kate Smith echoed Ms Bont’s view, sharing a poignant photo of her children sitting with their friends sitting on the banks of the river.
‘This is why we stay,’ Ms Smith told Daily Mail Australia.’Through the pain and heartache, family and friendships remain on the beautiful Hawkesbury.’
Jodie Saint, whose Windsor home has flooded five times in five years is ready to move – but only to another house nearby (Pictured, Andrew Ott, left, with partner Jodie Saint, and three of their children pose during a flood)
Andrew Ott helps his 9 year old son Logan out of their Windsor home during the 2021 flood.He said the water was up to six feet deep inside their home at one point
Likewise, another mum, Christina Myron, shared a photo of her backyard view out into open paddocks.
‘This is why we stay,’ said Ms Myron. ‘Look at our view.It brings me so much peace’.
Over 140,000 people live in the area, which has three floodplains linked by the Hawkesbury River: Wallacia, Penrith/Emu Plains and the Richmond/Windsor floodplains.
The population is projected to double in the next 30 years, making it Australia’s biggest community exposed to major flood risk.
Jodie Saint, whose Windsor home has flooded five times in five years is ready to move – but only to another house nearby.
Parents Mr Ott and Ms Saint (pictured first and second from left, back row) love the Hawkesbury region and want to access a government buy-back scheme because their home keeps flooding – but they are determined to remain in the region
She’s had enough and wants to move – but will not be abandoning the area.
‘I grew up in Liverpool.Here we feel safe, it’s a semi-country lifestyle and it’s much more community-minded,’ Ms Saint told Daily Mail Australia.
‘You look out the window here and you see the fog rolling over the grass, it’s just beautiful.
‘We love the Hawkesbury.Both my partner and I have been here for over 20 years and want to raise our kids here.’
She and partner Andrew Ott believe their four-bedroom home should be acquired in a government buy-back scheme, a call echoed by hundreds of other homeowners.
The Brennan’s flooded entertaining cabin
Mrs Brennan said the views in the region are too stunning to move away from (Pictured, Mrs Brennan’s photo from a recent trip on the ferry at Wiseman’s Ferry)
‘We bought our dream house, put everything we have into getting into the housing market,’ Ms Saint said.
‘We did know that we were buying in a flood zone, but took the risk of a “one in one hundred year flood”.
‘Of course, we’ve seen five floods in five years and three of those were in the last six months.
‘Our frustration now is the constant repairs after the floods, so time-consuming and expensive.’
<div class="art-ins mol-factbox news" data-version="2" id="mol-f0d444d0-01a8-11ed-838e-25636d61f39f" website living in the flood zone reveal why they won't leave