BUILD IT: Levee supporter Josh Whitcombe in his Depot Hill workshop.
BUILD IT: Levee supporter Josh Whitcombe in his Depot Hill workshop. Allan Reinikka ROK050617alevee2

Depot Hill business throws support behind levee building

ONE of the smiling faces seen around Depot Hill after yesterday's announcement to push ahead with construction of the South Rockhampton flood levee was Josh Whitcombe's.

"I heard it on the radio and I saw the map in the paper this morning, which I thought was great,” Mr Whitcombe said.

In the past 18 months, Mr Whitcombe, 29, has run his own diesel fitter business JRS Diesel leasing a commercial property for his workshop in Depot Hill.

Then the flood came.

Unfortunately he has a $20,000 hole in his pocket as a consequence of a fortnight's lost business and the clean-up costs associated with flood water 0.4m deep through his office and 1.4m through his work shop.

"We pretty much had to pack up everything and move out, there was nothing that could stay behind,” Mr Whitcombe said.

He said the cost to insure his workshop in Depot Hill was prohibitive, forcing him to focus was on limiting the damage to his business when he knew the flood was coming.

"It's too expensive to have insurance down here for flood damage,” he said.

"We just had to make sure we were prepared and have everything packed up to move out.

"We just packed everything onto trailers and parked it over at SMW's yard across town until we could get back in and start cleaning up.”

Josh Whitcombe in his Depot Hill workshop.
Josh Whitcombe in his Depot Hill workshop. Allan Reinikka ROK050617alevee1

The post-flood clean-up process was an unenviable task for Mr Whitcombe.

"Basically we just had to squeegee out all of the mud then hose everything out, dig all the drains out for all the mud and silt so everything works again then put up with the smell for a couple of weeks,” he said.

Mr Whitcombe lives on the north side of Rockhampton and said, even if his business didn't stand to benefit, he still would have supported the construction of a levee bank.

He said his aunt's business had avoided flood damage this time around thanks to the construction of the temporary flood levee in Berserker.

According to Mr Whitcombe, the local economy also stood to benefit with major employers such as Hastings Deering able to remain open during times of flooding.

"I can't see any negatives to it, financially it'll benefit a lot of people in Depot Hill,” he said

"Houses down here that were worth nothing will be worthwhile trying to fix and sell again, which will revitalise Depot Hill.

"I think it will be a roll effect, once it's floodproof, things will just get better and better.”

Mr Whitcombe suspected the reason why many residents were opposed to the levee was because of fears they had regarding costs and water displacement into other areas but said it was up to hydrologists to work that out.

Flooding aside, Mr Whitcombe is having a good year. Already he's starting to see positive signs that the economy has turned the corner and things are on the up and up.

"I like to think it's starting to turn around, I see customers back now that I haven't seen in a couple of years for repairs they've been doing themselves in past years but now they're starting to be a bit busier so they're bringing it back here to get done,” he said.

Meanwhile, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry says she's under attack, see her levee response on page five.



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