Former Dungog Alison Court resident Betty Kelehear has found a new home

PERMANENT HOME: Betty Kelehear was in the Alison Court complex when the 2015 April superstorm struck, but she has moved into a new unit in Brown Street.
PERMANENT HOME: Betty Kelehear was in the Alison Court complex when the 2015 April superstorm struck, but she has moved into a new unit in Brown Street.

When the April 2015 super storm hit, Betty Kelehear was in one of the bottom units at Alison Court in Dungog.

She was rescued by neighbour Beth Elford who helped get her to safety and for the last 11 months has been living with her daughter Cheryl and her fiancé Paul Lancaster.

But last weekend she moved into one of the flats in nearby Brown Street and couldn’t be happier.

“I moved into the units nine years ago but was told they could flood,” she said.

“On the morning of April 21 these words were ringing in my ears and because of the heavy rain all night, I left my hearing aids on in case someone came knocking at the door.

“I could hear gurgling at 5.30 and got up to see what it was and looked out the window.

“There was heaps of water in the park but I didn’t worry too much about it and went back to bed.

“When I got up nearly an hour later, I put my feet on the ground and stepped into water.

“I went over to the window and everyone in the rest of the units were getting out.

“The water was rising so much and by the time Beth came to help me, it was up to my chest.

“The fridge tipped over and floated near me and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to open the front door.

“I pushed the kitchen chair out of the road, held the fridge and managed to get the door open.

“We waded up to Beth’s unit where she put a doona around me.”

But the water was still rising quickly and soon Beth’s unit started to flood too.

The residents – one of whom only had underpants on – made their way up to the Coffee Bean Cafe at the top of the driveway.

Many were just wrapped in doonas or blankets or still had wet clothes on.

Hearing of the flood, her daughter Cheryl eventually found Betty at the cafe and took her back to her place.

“I think I have been one of the lucky ones,” Betty said.

“I didn’t have to pay rent but I would give them money to help out with the electricity and the phone.

“And Paul is a cracking cook . . . but I taught him a few things too.

“There were so many people who helped out.  Someone came and took all my clothes and linen home and washed it all.  It came back all neatly folded in marked bags.

“The [Dungog Shire] community centre has been absolutely wonderful too as has the CWA and all the other cash donations and goods I received from other organisations.

“The insurance company paid up very quickly and I have been able to buy new furniture and other items for my new home.

“And Cheryl has been absolutely marvelous, I don’t know what I would have done without her.”

Betty was one of four residents whose name went into a ballot to secure one of the units at Alison Court.

She was unsuccessful but is hoping to eventually get back there one day.

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