THE LONG WAY HOME: Tornado's legacy lingers

EDITORIAL:Home not too much to ask

A RUTHERGLEN couple spoke out yesterday over the drawn-out repairs to their tornado-damaged house.

This month marks the first anniversary of the tornado, which ripped through caravan parks at Mulwala and Rutherglen’s historic Main Street.

The roof of Colin and Pam Ling’s heritage-listed former doctor’s surgery was ripped off and the heavy rain that followed created a waterfall down the house’s staircase.

One builder put the damage bill at $180,000.

The Lings yesterday said they appeared no closer to moving back into the circa 1900 building.

They laid the blame on what they said was a lack of communication between their Adelaide-based insurance company, Elders Insurance, the insurer’s own assessor and the builder carrying out the repairs.

“What the builder’s done appears to be quite good,” Mrs Ling said.

“The roof is on and they’ve done most of the painting, but there’s a lot of finishing off to be done.

“It has to have carpets throughout and lino, but the two people I’ve had quotes from have said all the boards have to be renailed and sanded.”

Mr Ling said he was extremely frustrated about the problems in getting the work completed.

That had prompted him to lodge a report yesterday on their experiences with Elders Insurance’s disputes resolution section, which is run by its parent company, QBE Insurance.

“There’s at least 23 things that have not been fixed on the house,” Mr Ling said.

“These are items that should have been done by now.

“This just goes on and on and on.”

A super cell of thunderstorms produced what the Bureau of Meteorology classified as a tornado on March 21 last year, creating winds of up to 250km/h.

Yarrawonga, Koonoomoo and Cobram were also in the tornado’s destructive path.

Mrs Ling said she was concerned a lot of their insulation batts had been put back in the ceiling.

“We got in touch with Bradford Insulation and they said that their experience with cyclones in Queensland had led to their recommendation that the batts should have been removed immediately because of mould,” she said.

“For your health you can’t have mould there, and the rain takes away the fire resistance.

“They’re also supposed to have had the spouts connected to the stormwater but haven’t.”

That meant water was spilling on to the ground, creating rising damp.

The Lings pointed out how they had just one month left on a 12-month lease of a nearby residence provided in their insurance policy.

They said they clearly needed longer, but Elders would not budge on an extension, despite there being no work done on the house for the first seven months.

The Border Mail contacted Elders’ communications department in Adelaide yesterday for comment, but did not receive a reply.

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