We had a wonderful night and drove home the next evening, fully satisfied with our life. As we drove home past the Benalla golf club, Bernadette noted that there had obviously been a lot of rain. Little did we know that the following day would also be memorable. Why?
At 12.30 a.m. on Monday 4th October, the phone disturbed my sound sleep, for Tony Smith, my business partner’s son, to advise me that the police had phoned him to warn of an impending flood, and that our business premises were in danger. Get down there fast!
By 1.30 Tony and I, working in the office, had lifted everything ponderable to a height which we believed to be above any pending flood level. Oh yeah? The flood came through 10 minutes later at a height above desk level. Our estimate was sadly too low. Papers and files, which we considered to be safe, were inundated. So too, were our computers and all floor level furnishings.
I managed to beat the flood at the gardens, and arrived home safe and sound at about 1.45 am. Our house is situated in the highest area in Benalla so we did not experience the flooding which so many householders endured.
The morning revealed that a great portion of Benalla was awash. Bernadette’s brother Gilbert and his family, (Dunlop Place), her sister Denise, (Walker Street) had been evacuated during the night and were accommodated at the Technical School hall. The bowling club house, (my second home) was flooded to a record high, as were the bowling greens.
Because of the flooded river, we were unable to get back down to the office for 2 days and did not re-open for business for a further 3 weeks, during which time we uprooted our carpets and burnt many files of damaged accounting records .It was a good opportunity to dispose of many, many old records. We sent 12 boxes of clients’ current records to Melbourne to be dried out. This drying cost us $100 each small carton. Our furnishings were not covered for flood insurance, but marvellously, our computers were! Although there was no accounting work done, we continued to pay unemployed staff. With our furnishings and carpets losses, three weeks of nil production, and records’ drying fees, we incurred a significant financial loss.
Many businesses and home owners were denied insurance payouts because of a technicality in the interpretation of “storm damage” and “flood damage”. However, a very active group of victims took issue with the Insurance companies, and although it took years, many did receive compensation.