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Supporting those who lost everything

Posted: 9am 15 Apr 2022

When hundreds of people throughout the region became homeless due to the February floods, the dedicated team from Chameleon Housing was out on the streets helping families and individuals where they could.

Carmel Riethmuller from Chameleon Housing said they booked out motels on the peninsula to ensure those who were impacted had a roof over their heads.

“Our core work has always been helping the homeless, and when the need arises, like the COVID-19 pandemic or a natural disaster, we will go above and beyond our core work to meet the needs of the community,” Carmel said.

“At Chameleon House, we had been fundraising for a long time so we had some money, plus donations from the community, so we went and put a reserve on as many motel rooms on the peninsula as we could,” Carmel said.

“A lot of people had houses that were in such a terrible state that they couldn’t stay there, or the home had to be demolished, so we paid for these people’s accommodation for the week.

“In a crisis, people need a roof over their head and food to eat.”

Carmel and her team worked closely with the owners of The Breathe Easy Café in Rothwell to ensure those that were in emergency accommodation and had no access to a kitchen could still have a healthy and nutritious meal to eat.

“Trina, Ritchie and Tash from The Breathe Easy Café provided more than 350 meals to people in need, as well as running their little business every day,” Carmel said.

“Their meals were absolutely delicious, and we distributed those meals for a good couple of weeks.”

Carmel said her focus moving forward was to continue checking in on the people impacted by the floods.

“We are now ensuring these people are settled into their new homes by providing goods like fridges, microwaves, beds and other furniture items,” Carmel said.

“Their whole lives were tipped upside down - they lost all their worldly possessions.

“The next stage will also be checking their mental health and ensuring they are doing ok.

“It was a very traumatic experience for people, and it is only now that it is coming to the surface and impacting them.”

Chameleon Housing has been on the peninsula for more than 30 years, helping people from across the Moreton Bay Region.

To find out more, visit their website.

A helping hand

One of the people Chameleon House helped was a lady by the name of Ann (last name withheld).

When floodwaters inundated her apartment in Clontarf, Ann spent days sleeping on a wet couch.

“The apartment complex I was living in got flooded…. the unit on the bottom floor and mine,” Ann said.

“There were a few inches of water…. that came up to my shin.

“The water was coming through the roof, the walls and the lights.

“I was sleeping on the couch with a doona and blankets while the water was still in the apartment.

“I know there were much worse people off than me, and I didn’t want to bother anyone.”

Ann was finally convinced to pack a bag and leave her home. She went into emergency accommodation until a new residence could be found.

Giving thanks

During the traumatic time, Ann says dozens of people in the community came to her aid, many of whom she had never met before.

“I had never met these people in my life before, but they were brilliant,” Ann said.

“They showed me so much kindness and helped me at a time when I really needed it.

“I’ve always been a person that looks after myself, has worked all my life, so asking for help was a difficult thing for me to do.”

Ann would like to publicly thank those who went above and beyond to help her get back on her feet.

• Travis and Don - Her upstairs neighbours at her complex in Clontarf who came down and helped her sweep out water from her apartment during that wet weekend in February.

• State Member for Redcliffe Yvette D’Ath as well as staff from her office – Yvette helped Ann to pack a bag and took her to the refuge centre at the Redcliffe Showgrounds. Her team has been aiding Ann with forms to access assistance money.

• The people from City Church, who had people come and list heavy items out of her home in Clontarf.

• Carmel, Yvonne and Nicky from Chameleon Regional Community Housing for helping Ann with emergency accommodation food, getting her into a new apartment and assisting with furniture and household items.

• Sam and Kim from the Sebel – Where Ann stayed before she could get into a more permanent location.

• Staff from Sunny’s Restaurant.

• Her friend Honoria who works at a charity shop on the Sunshine Coast who provided items like clothing, appliances and more.

  • Her long-time friend and former colleague Evelyn, for her support during this tough time.

“I don’t want to miss anyone out, but if you have helped me, I extend my sincere thanks to you all,” Ann says.

State Member for Redcliffe Yvette D’Ath said she and her team were happy to help Ann during her time of need.

“Ann is lovely person, and I am so incredibly pleased we were able to do our bit to help her.”

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