Jayde and Tim McKenzie's Corindi property was severely damaged after a storm on February 25.
Jayde and Tim McKenzie's Corindi property was severely damaged after a storm on February 25.

Family sheltered on kitchen bench above flood water

As residents in Corindi begin the long road to recovery, Jayde McKenzie has recounted the harrowing evening when, perched on a kitchen bench with her four kids, she was forced to watch floodwaters rise inside her home.

Following the brutal storm which destroyed almost everything her family own, friends, family and even strangers have all pitched in to help, but on the night of the chaos Ms McKenzie and her four children were all alone.

With flash flooding impacting roads all over the area, Ms McKenzie's calls to her parents, the State Emergency Service and husband Tim - working in Western Australia - were all in vain.

One month after the McKenzies finished their brand new driveway it was completely destroyed by floodwaters.
One month after the McKenzies finished their brand new driveway it was completely destroyed by floodwaters.

"The water outside the house was about waist deep and it was just raging. There was nowhere we could go," she said.

"It was a pretty harrowing couple of hours, just sitting there waiting because nobody could get in and we couldn't get out."

Ms McKenzie said she woke just after 2am to find ankle deep water flowing through the house. Marshalling the kids, they began moving furniture onto the top tier of their split-level home in the mistaken belief that "there is no way that is going to flood".

Her first call was to her parents, who also live in Corindi, thinking they just needed a few sandbags to stop the water flowing in.

Jayde McKenzie says one shed has now been cleaned out and is storing what’s left of their possessions not destroyed by flash flooding.
Jayde McKenzie says one shed has now been cleaned out and is storing what’s left of their possessions not destroyed by flash flooding.

"Within 15-20 minutes the whole top level was going under as well, the water was just coming up through the hardwood floors. It was just chaotic."

At the same time, Corindi RFS captain Rob Cox was left "frustrated" at not being able to help a fellow community member in their time of need.

"The report was a woman and four children standing on the kitchen table and we couldn't get to them. The floodwaters were too high," he said.

The family spent more than two hours on top of the kitchen bench, as Ms McKenzie split her time between making phone calls for assistance and reassuring the children aged 9, 6, 4 and two.

Just down the road from the McKenzie’s, Peter Bahtti lost his entire raspberry crop during the storm. Photo: Tim Jarrett
Just down the road from the McKenzie’s, Peter Bahtti lost his entire raspberry crop during the storm. Photo: Tim Jarrett

Adding to the tension, Ms McKenzie said they could hear debris banging into the sides of the house and saw water lapping at the windows "around chest height".

"I thought if the front windows smashed 'we are gone' - it was terrifying."

Since the storm, the community of Corindi has banded together to help those impacted the best they can, preparing meals, donating livestock feed and facilitating the sharing of equipment to hasten the clean-up.

The State and Federal Governments have also declared the storm a natural disaster, triggering financial support to flow where it is needed most.

Ms McKenzie said the family were thankful for the "overwhelming" support from the community.

"The community support has just blown me away," she said.

"We had a working bee on Saturday and we had people driving by who stopped and asked if they could help."

Originally published as Family sheltered on kitchen bench above flood water


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