Flood victim resorts to couch surfing

Flood victim resorts to couch surfing
Flood victim resorts to couch surfing

A couch surfing Holloways Beach dad is crashing on a mate’s mattress, having exhausted his insurance company’s temporary accommodation fund following December’s flood. His home is n’t expected to be rebuilt until 2025.

Less than 24 hours later, the single dad’s worst nightmares were realized when floodwaters rushed through the recently renovated property, destroying their house and all of their belongings.

Four months on from the devastating Far North flood, the father and son are among hundreds of Cairns residents still waiting to return home.

“We were so excited to move to a beautiful area,” he said.

“We got the keys… we’d finally gone through all the hoops.

“Then to come back and see it after the flood was pretty depressing and disheartening.

“It wasn’t very fun, that’s for sure.”

Later that week, Mr Sinnott pushed the family’s moldy furniture out of the premises and onto the footpath to be taken to the tip.

Holloways Beach resident, Josh Sinnott said he doesn’t expect to move back into his home until next year. Picture: Brendan Radke

Amongst the treasured keepsakes lost were ultrasounds from before Kruse’s birth.

“He asks quite often when we’re moving back into the flooded house,” the former Townsville resident said.

“He doesn’t really understand yet… but I can’t see it being fixed anytime soon, or even in 2024.”

Today, the car detailer is crashing on a mate’s mattress, having exhausted his insurance company’s temporary accommodation fund, with little hope of moving back into his house before next year.

Had he known that Sure Insurance were forking out around $9000 a month for the apartment where he was living, Mr Sinnott said he would have found alternative dwellings in order to keep a roof over their heads for longer.

“It was a few days before Christmas when we got flooded, so we said, ‘Yes. We’ll take it’ without even really thinking about it,” he said.

“About a month ago they told us that the temporary accommodation (fund) was going to run out soon.

“They said, ‘We can try and find you a cheaper place to live.’

“But there’s already a rental shortage in Cairns and they couldn’t find any other accommodation.”

Rental vacancy rates in Cairns were already extremely low before the flood crisis, and have only worsened since, currently sitting at about 0.8 per cent.

In a statement, a Sure Insurance spokesperson said the “customer was aware of the limit of the temporary accommodation benefit” and had paid “the full available” amount to Mr Sinnott of around $52,000.

“We have been in regular communication with our customer throughout the management of the claim and provided regular advice,” the spokesperson said.

“We provided ongoing advice regarding the temporary accommodation benefit and further specific advice on March 18, 2024.”

“In response to a request from our customer, we subsequently settled the remaining

balance of the temporary accommodation with a final benefit cash payment to the

“customer.”

Mr Sinnott is hopeful that repairs to his kitchen and bathrooms are included in a forthcoming quote from Sure Insurance. Picture: Brendan Radke

After waiting almost four months, Mr Sinnott said a builder provided by Sure Insurance had finally assessed his damaged home last week, with the property’s kitchen and bathrooms still untouched.

“Obviously, they’re the most expensive parts of the house,” he said.

“My concern is that they’ll try to claim that the kitchens and bathrooms don’t need to be removed. But, obviously, they do.

“Hopefully, they’ll come to the party.”

Sure Insurance’s spokesperson said “additional property damage was identified” following strip-out and restoration works with an amended quote yet to be finalized.

“I’m not going to let them walk over me and say that they won’t remove them,” Mr Sinnott said.

“I’m going to fight and make sure the job’s done properly.”

Just 25 per cent of all cyclone and flood claims lodged with Sure Insurance have been finalised.

Last week, frustrated Far North flood victims called out the insurance provider over long delays, lowball quotes, and difficulty accessing funds for temporary accommodation after losing their homes during the disaster.

 
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