It’s finally home sweet home for flood affected couple
IF ANDREW and Shelly Johnston had things their way, they would swap their new house for all the mental and emotional anguish they've suffered over the past 14 months.
The Railway Estate couple are this week moving back into their home of three years, which was destroyed in the February 2019 floods. And while they're excited to be back, they say the feeling is a "double-edged sword".
The couple, who have been married for 15 years, have been living across the street in a temporary rental, watching their two-bedroom cottage being fully renovated.
With the final touches including appliances and furniture being moved in this week, Shelly said there was a sense of relief in returning to normal.
"Apart from being very happy to be back in the house, it's been a very long and arduous journey getting here, and it's not something I would wish on my worst enemy," she said.
"People are very well meaning saying at least we're getting new things or you can go choose new furniture, but the price we paid is high mentally, emotionally and physically.
"We've just had a year in limbo where we couldn't move forward with anything."
It's taken just over a year for the renovations to be completed, with landscaping and front fencing still to be done.
The home will be fully fitted with new furniture and new belongings, after the couple had 20cm of water through their property destroying everything they owned.
They were fully insured but work was delayed because of the rebuilding task and the lack of available tradies.
Active within the flood-ravaged online community, the couple know they're lucky with others still not home, or works not even started.
Andrew said the ordeal had been the toughest test of their relationship, but is encouraging other residents not yet home to keep looking forward.
"We've been in and seen the place as it's been rebuilt but then to finally sign off and get the keys, you get that same sort of excited feeling (as when you bought the house)," he said.
"By the end of the week and once we're living in here then we'll be able to breathe that sigh of relief."
Residents struggling with mental health concerns following the floods can contact: