Young woman whose family lost their entire home to floods finds it completely underwater
A young woman has broken down in tears live on air at the sight of her family home which is now submerged under rising waters as New South Wales endures devastating floods.
Brittnee Sheath, who lives with her parents, grandparents and brother, Jayden, assessed what is left of her home in Pitt Town, in Sydney’s northwest, on Wednesday.
‘It doesn’t feel real, we can’t believe what’s happened,’ she told Daily Mail Australia after travelling by boat with Sunrise to check out the flooded property.
‘We’re just going to have to wait until the water goes down and we can see what it looks like and all the damage.’
The only part of the family home that was visible were bits of the roof and top floor window which were poking through the murky water and floating debris.
The Sheath family look out toward the floodwaters which entirely swallowed their Pitt Town home
The boat then travelled a few meters further, where the tip of the roof of Ms Sheath’s home could be seen poking through the water
Ms Sheath said she was thankful to have friends and relatives in Pitt Town to support her and her family
‘It’s hard to see,’ she said through tears.
‘I’m kind of emotionless at the moment and obviously it’s hard to see it like this but like I said it’s not going to hit us until we have to go inside.
‘Having to start all over again is going to be hard but we’ll get there… we are all safe and together and that’s all that matters.’
Brittnee’s brother Jayden arrived at the base of the floodwaters later on Wednesday, and was comforted by his girlfriend, friends and family who had all gathered to offer their support.
He explained the family had evacuated on Saturday when they were warned floodwaters were likely to rise.
They moved what they could of the furniture to higher ground but anticipated any damage wouldn’t be extensive.
‘It’s pretty unbelievable what’s happened,’ he said.
In spite of the devastation, Jayden and his mates were planning to head to the local pub, noting that’s where most of the town had congregated in the past few days.
Ms Sheath got emotional as she was supported by her brother and father while surveying the damage in Pitt Town
Brittnee Sheath, who lives with her parents, grandparents and brother, assessed what is left of her home in Pitt Town, in Sydney’s northwest, on Wednesday
Brittnee’s brother Jayden said he would head to the pub after surveying the damage at his home. Pictured: Smiling after his girlfriend and friend tried to cheer him up
‘As bad as it’s been up here, the mood’s been great at the pub,’ he said. ‘Everyone’s been great.’
The family will remain in Pitt Town with close family friends until they’re able to access their own home again, and are just hoping floodwaters don’t continue to rise.
‘If the water reaches that home, I think the whole of Sydney’s in trouble,’ another man joked. ‘We’d be straight off north to Queensland.’
Ms Sheath’s father said the family weren’t alone in their loss. They had neighbours who also made the choice to evacuate and whose houses are also entirely submerged.
‘We all built down there knowing there was a risk,’ he told a friend at the scene. ‘We’ll all stick together.’
Insuring homes when they’re built in known flood zones or low lying areas is ‘almost impossible,’ Ms Sheath explained. ‘It would’ve cost an insane amount.’
The same sentiment has been echoed in small towns across western Sydney, as residents recall insurance costs skyrocketing after the horror floods in Queensland in 2011.
Ms Sheath’s father said the family weren’t alone in their loss. They had neighbours who also made the choice to evacuate and whose houses are also entirely submerged
Brittnee Sheath spent the morning trying to spot her home from across the floodwaters, which had created an enormous body of water covering much of Pitt Town
Bel Cole, whose house was at risk toward the back of Riverstone, said her insurance premiums jumped from $150 per month to $650 per month immediately after the tragedy – and that wasn’t even complete coverage.
‘It’s not possible for a lot of families,’ she explained.
A petrol station at the top of the flooded Pitt Town road leading to the Sheath’s home held a lunch time barbecue on Wednesday, where effected families and their friends gathered after assessing the damage earlier in the morning.
About 18,000 NSW residents have been evacuated from their homes since last week when the torrential rain began, and the flood clean-up is expected to stretch beyond Easter.
More than 10,000 requests for help have been made around the state since last Thursday, with emergency services performing more than 900 flood rescues.
The rains began to ease on Tuesday night and there were clear skies over most of the state, but the Bureau of Meteorology said conditions would remain severe for inland NSW as floodwaters continued to rise.
Ms Sheath was able to point beneath the boat to what was once an outdoor entertaining area. By Tuesday, it was completely submerged in water.
Ms Sheath said she knew the water was rising, but hadn’t anticipated how quickly it would swallow her home.
‘We had in our minds we had to prepare to get out, we had a warning from the SES saying that we had 12 hours on Friday night,’ she said.
‘And when it hit at 10pm, three hours later, they said we need to evacuate now.’
Ms Sheath said she was thankful to have friends and relatives in Pitt Town to support her and her family.
‘We’ve got so much help. At the moment we’re staying with close family friends. They’ve been more than happy to open up their whole house to us so we can’t thank them enough,’ she said.
Dave Murphy and his wife, who live nearby in Pitt Town Bottoms, also lost their newly renovated home after it was swallowed by floodwater on Sunday morning.
About 18,000 NSW residents have been evacuated from their homes since last week when the rains began in NSW. Pictured: a home along the Colo River
‘It’s absolutely devastating… It was our dream home,’ Mr Murphy told 2GB on Wednesday.
‘The wife’s not really impressed at this point in time, and doesn’t know if she wants to live there anymore.’
Major flooding is occurring northwest of Sydney along the Hawkesbury River at North Richmond, Windsor and on the Colo River on Wednesday morning.
SES Commissioner Carlene York says Wednesday’s reprieve from torrential rain will allow emergency workers to assess the damage in multiple areas.
But some rivers will continue to rise.
Her biggest concern is the developing situation in north-western NSW in Moree, where about 400 people in low lying areas have been told to evacuate as the Mehi River swells.
‘We’re obviously [also] still concerned about that Hawkesbury-Nepean River area because,’ she told Sydney radio 2GB.
‘Just because the sun comes out doesn’t mean the rivers aren’t … increasing in height.’
More than 10,000 requests for help have been made around NSW since last Thursday, with emergency services performing more than 900 flood rescues. Pictured: a flooded home in Londonderry
There have been 12,000 insurance claims so far, and that number expected to increase dramatically. Pictured: a flooded home in Londonderry
The SES was closely monitoring the situation and bringing in essential supplies to people cut off by water in North Richmond and Singleton.
But the rain is continuing on the South Coast around the Bega River amid heavy winds.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who has been put in charge of the floods recovery effort, says the crisis is far from over.
‘Rivers are swollen, the banks have been breached, and even though the rain has stopped a lot of the water from north of the state will continue to flow into the river system,’ he told Nine on Wednesday.
He also wants to see residential and business insurance claims processed quickly saying, ‘we will be riding the insurance companies, they are on notice’.
There have been 12,000 insurance claims so far, and that number expected to increase dramatically.