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'I lost everything': CQ man devastated by heartless thieves

Sandy Petrie with his grandchildren.
Sandy Petrie with his grandchildren. Contributed

AFTER LOSING everything in Cyclone Debbie, the hits kept on coming for Sandy Petrie.

Walls of water gushed through his service station and convenience store business and home in the tiny town of Lotus Creek, north of Marlborough, in April, causing unbelievable and irreparable damage.

But it was nothing compared to what was to come for the 67-year-old man.

Mr Petrie has spent the last eight months living at his daughter's property at Wowan, south of Rockhampton, as his home was inhabitable.

This has left his business and home left unattended - the perfect remote location for vandals.

Lotus Creek Service Station, north of Marlborough, was destroyed by raging floodwaters that swept through after Cyclone Debbie.   The devastation in the north is far from over.
Lotus Creek Service Station, north of Marlborough, was destroyed by raging floodwaters that swept through after Cyclone Debbie. The devastation in the north is far from over. Contributed

"Every time I go back up something is missing, someone has stolen something," he said.

"Every time you go back you think is this still going to be there, is my generator going to be there?

"I just lost everything, do you really want to take more from me?

"Some people just have no conscience."

Each time Mr Petrie has gone home to do some repairs, he is faced with more possessions stolen from his property, devastating him even more.

Sandy Petrie's roadhouse at Lotus Creek was destroyed by fast moving flood waters from Cyclone Debbie.
Sandy Petrie's roadhouse at Lotus Creek was destroyed by fast moving flood waters from Cyclone Debbie. Mark Bailey

"I went back up this week and someone had smashed the windows in my shed and stolen my tools," he said.

"My brand new chainsaw, brand new brushcutter, all my plumbing tools I have had for the last 50 years."

Mr Petrie said he has lost more things than he can count.

"This started happening a week after the cyclone," he said.

"Freezers were going missing, anything that wasn't tied down."

The very fact it keeps on happening every time he leaves has left a sour taste in Mr Petrie's mouth; diminishing his desire to keep on going.

"People keep saying when am I going to open?" he said.

"Out the back I have a bbq area, that I built all myself, they took the stools from there, pot plants, stools, taps, brand news taps, they took pumps, that is $1800 each to replace.

"You look around and think is it worth it?"

Celebrating his 67th birthday yesterday, Mr Petrie said it is unlikely at this rate he will open the business back up to be the way it was.

"I doubt it very much," he said.

"For the last 35 years I built that up, I don't have 35 more years in me.

"I would like to get something smaller up, just a fuel shop with a few drinks that would be fine and then you have every chance to sell it."

But the future lies in the hands of looters.

"It depends how many times I get things knocked off," he said.

Financially, along with the looting, Mr Petrie has also had a hard time replacing what he lost in the flood and repairing the damage.

"It's been very slow," he said.

"The insurance companies haven't been very kind to me.

"They gave me a little bit back, not near enough to repair the whole place.

"I wasn't insured for flood because we never get flooded."

 

Sandy Petrie's roadhouse at Lotus Creek was destroyed by fast moving flood waters from Cyclone Debbie.
Sandy Petrie's roadhouse at Lotus Creek was destroyed by fast moving flood waters from Cyclone Debbie. Mark Bailey

While the photographs clearly show the extensive damage his property sustained, Mr Petrie's land did not lie in the eligible government grants areas.

"I am a modest person and don't take a handout to lightly but I do think I deserve some," he said.

"I have had nothing off the government at all but I am in touch with QRIDA at the moment, I actually got $5,000 and I was in touch with them on Wednesday and put in a claim for a new shed and some windows so I'm hoping to get $20,000 off them.

"When it happened, politicians came out, Mark Bailey and Barnaby Joyce but as time goes on, you are forgotten about and they just got their name in the paper."

He said $20k would only be a small pocket of what sort of money would need to be pumped into his place to bring it back up to where it was.

"I would say you are talking $250,000 to put it back on what it was," Mr Petrie said.

"When you find you have no walls left and my portable dongas aren't there, by the time you replace all them, that is about $50k."

So far the work he has been able to complete feels like a tiny portion of what needs to be done.

"I have been able to clean up some of the shop and rebuild a new house," Mr Petrie said.

"So I can live there, maybe not permanently, but it's still habitable for someone to live there, maybe rent it out."

While it may seem small, Mr Petrie has been able to have some small wins for which he is grateful for.

"A big thank you to the Salvation Army, they donated $1500 to the tools I lost, my gernis and brushcutter, tools so I can clean up and fix some things," he said.

"And a thank you to Coles through Centacare, they have given me $100 in food vouchers.

"A big thank you to my good friends in the area that have helped me, there is too many to list."

Topics:  cyclone debbie cyclone debbie aftermath cyclone debbie cleanup lotus creek natural disaster natural disaster assistance qrida



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