Long path to get home back into shape

By Anne-Marie McDonald

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MUD BATH: Kylie Bishop and her daughter Jessica in what remained of their front garden, June 2015.
MUD BATH: Kylie Bishop and her daughter Jessica in what remained of their front garden, June 2015.

The Wanganui Chronicle is marking the one-year anniversary of the June 2015 floods with a series of articles all week, going back to those who suffered in the flood and finding out how their lives have changed one year on.

Kylie Bishop says the past year has been one of the most difficult of her life.

"It's been a nightmare, to be honest. I hope I never have to go through this again."

The Wanganui Chronicle met Kylie and her young daughter, Jessica, just after the 2015 floods, as they tried to dig their house out of the thick mud that inundated it on the night of June 20.

Ms Bishop and Jessica lived on State Highway 4, just south of Upokongaro, in the house Ms Bishop's late parents had built. Although it's in a lovely, rural setting, the house is right next to a small stream which runs into the Whanganui River.

"We'd had the stream flood into the back garden before, but never into the house," Kylie said.

At the peak of the flood, the water was more than 1.5-metres deep in the house. All of the furniture was thrown around and smashed, and thick mud coated everything. The head-high tide mark is still clearly visible on several glass doors in the house.

The two were left with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Ms Bishop could not go back to work for six weeks because her employer, Silver Fern Farms Waitotara meatworks, shut temporarily after the floods.

For the past year, they have been living with family while they try to get back on their feet. They hope to be back in their house later this month, although Ms Bishop admits to mixed feelings about the prospect.

"It [flooding] is going to happen again; it's just a matter of when. Jessica was saying last night how much she liked listening to the rain on the roof and I thought, I won't when we're back in the house and it's been raining for two days.

"On the other hand, although we're really grateful to my brother for having us, it will be nice to have our own space again."

Ms Bishop said her insurance company has been "slow, but helpful" in getting the house fixed. The house has had to be virtually rebuilt, with new walls, new cladding, new front door and flooring, and most of the windows replaced. Part of the concrete foundations also had to be rebuilt as it slumped after the floods.

"It's just the framing, most of the foundations and the roof that's original."

Ms Bishop said she and Jessica are looking forward to being settled again.

"We don't want to have to go through that again.

"But at the end of the day, this is our home."

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- Wanganui Chronicle

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