Woonona pensioner forced out by damage from flood

Katharina Hluschka, 87, is waiting on work to repair her flooded Woonona home. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI
Katharina Hluschka, 87, is waiting on work to repair her flooded Woonona home. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

At Katharina Hluschka's Woonona house, the smell of damp is all-pervasive and the mould is setting in.

But the 87-year-old Mrs Hluschka won't leave this place, however much her children beg her; this is home.

Almost a month since serious rains caused flooding in parts of the Illawarra, the clean-up continues at the homes that were inundated.

Mrs Hluschka's daughter, Kathy Cooper, says she is satisfied with the response of insurer NRMA in assessing damage to her mother's Lawrence Street house, where the flood water rose about a foot up the walls and Mrs Hluschka had to be rescued by her family.

Ms Cooper said the insurer had quickly arranged for damaged furniture to be removed, humidifiers to be brought in and builders to conduct their assessments.

"We're just waiting for the reports to be done and then the work can begin," she said.

"They've got to remove parts of walls, built-in wardrobes and doors where they're all damp and wet - they may be putting in a new kitchen - it's actually quite a job.

"When all that happens, Mum's going to have to leave the house."

Ms Cooper was among those critical of Wollongong City Council's maintenance of nearby Collins Creek, which she said was too narrow to accommodate flows from heavy rain.

Ms Cooper said flooding had worsened as the area had become more developed, and that the council had failed to act on proposals to widen the creek after flooding in 1998.

In the aftermath of the most recent flooding, she felt council's attention focused on flooded parts of the city centre.

"Wollongong seems to be the only thing that matters, but there's been so many people up north who've had the same thing happen," she said.


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