Springfield Lakes Residents Still Awaiting Repairs a Year After Halloween Hailstorm

Communities in Springfield Lakes and Ipswich are still rebuilding their homes — and putting their lives back together more than one year after a Halloween hailstorm battered and extensively damaged properties.

According to the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), the catastrophe following the October 2020 hailstorm incurred more than $1.08 billion in damages and 44,000 claims, whilst 12 per cent or about 5,300 claims have yet to be finalised as of 31 October 2021. 

Whilst property owners and insurers have had regular one-on-one consultations, through the help of ICA, the process of rebuilding has been marred by other challenges such as shortages in supplies of tiles and timber, the COVID-19 restrictions for constructions and movement of key personnels, and the availability of tradies. 

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“Recovery from the Halloween hailstorm has involved some challenges as it was the first major event to occur in a COVID-19 environment.  As a result, some delays to repairs have occurred due to a shortage of appropriately licensed tradespeople and materials,” per the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA).  The QRA has been assisting residents through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).

In September 2021, the Ipswich City Council received data from the QRA citing an 86 per cent completed reconstruction. However, more than 20 houses still have severe damage whilst more than 200 still have minor or moderate damage.

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Andrew Hall, the Insurance Council of Australia CEO, acknowledged that some homes have remained unlivable one year after the Halloween hailstorm but he also said that the insurers have been working hard and catching up on completing the claims. 

Meanwhile, residents who have been displaced have been moving from one apartment or house several miles away from their homes. Some need to regularly drive back to Springfield Lakes, from their temporary residences, to check if the damages have not deteriorated further, especially when there are cyclones and flooding forecasts in the area. 

Locals also expressed experiencing panic attacks or fear of buildings collapsing during bad weather. Since the Halloween hailstorm, every announcement of a severe storm warning has triggered stress and worries. 

Apart from creating a task force to help residents go through the process of claims, Ipswich City Council has also tapped different groups with established mental health and resiliency programs for the community, especially the children.