Cyclone Marcia victims go seven weeks without electricity
KAREN Johnson's smiling eyes and genuine warmth for other people hide fatigue to the point of exhaustion and tears just below the surface.
Karen and her partner Rob featured on the front page of both The Morning Bulletin and The Courier-Mail when the small country cottage they rent in Marmor was devastated by Cyclone Marcia.
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Almost seven weeks later, the couple still has no power, no hot water, no car and no idea when their home will be rebuilt.
But Karen is quick to wipe away the tears and talk about the generosity of their community in Marmor and the Anzac commemorative day she is helping to plan.
She and Rob are living in a caravan at the back of the house and their clothes and other belongings are kept in another, which is on temporary loan.
Yesterday, the cord broke on the generator that's kept them going.
"Mum raised me to know there's always someone in a worse situation than me," Karen said.
"We got the kitchen in order with a big effort; it was full of leaves and cane toads were taking over the laundry area, but it's the dust that's getting to me; I'm sick of the dust.
"I can handle it if we're camping, but we're not. This is our home."
Karen and Rob have been running fans off the generator that's now broken, the SES have tarped the space where walls used to be and their ute sits motionless in the side paddock.
"I would love someone to have a look at the ute," Karen said.
"The neighbour's shed roof slammed into the driver's side door.
"It's not driveable; the window is smashed and we can't open the door."
But signs of hope are emerging this week.
"A local bloke came over with his bobcat and generously dug a hole and helped us put the builder's pole in," she said.
"The electrician came out yesterday morning and hopefully the power might be back on this week."
She is elated her mattress dried out, their animals all survived and the old gum tree she thought was gone is beginning to grow new shoots.
As she walks her dogs in the afternoons, Karen collects what she fondly calls "Marmorian" stuff - bits and pieces her neighbours lost during the storm - chimney stacks, thongs, pot plants and all sorts of bits and pieces.
They know it will take years for the effects of Marcia to fully diminish but remain pragmatic.
"Rome wasn't built in a day," Rob said.
"We'll get there."
CALL FOR HELP
If there is anyone with a caravan they are prepared to loan to Karen and Rob or a panel beater willing to repair their car door, please contact The Morning Bulletin on 4930 4274 or firstname.lastname@example.org