Survivors of a monster storm that destroyed more than 100 homes have been left begging for help after facing “horrific” delays.
The storm struck the city’s outer east in early June 2021, with strong winds and falling trees making a mess of 173 properties.
Nearly half of those were almost totally destroyed and left uninhabitable.
Kalorama local Natalie Guest says her family remains stuck in a rental property, with rebuilding plans severely slowed by painful red-tape processes.
The family’s plans to build a new property at the place of their former abode hinge on a legal green light amid council concerns the home could “slide down the hill”.
“We are just today having our second little chat with an architect,” Ms Guest told 3AW Radio.
Rebuilding is yet to start on some of the homes left completely destroyed by the storm. Picture: Wayne Taylor
“We’ve got builders raring to go in September but that’s all dependant on … the legal team at Yarra Ranges Council actually getting an agreement to us to sign to say that we won’t take any legal action should our new property slide down the hill because we’re in a landslip area. “So the anxiety in our rental household has been absolutely massive for the last three, three-and-a-half weeks
“We don’t know if we can be back on our spot.”
Neighbouring residents face similar predicaments with local council, insurance, building and legal process all appearing to create a perfect red-tape storm 12 months on from the one that devastated the area.
“We know that we’re not alone; this decision this legal team makes affects quite a few of us up on the hill,” Ms Guest said.
“A year on, we thought we would’ve been further ahead than what we are.
“A lot of people are fighting with insurance, they’re fighting with banks.
“This waiting game is just horrendous. It is awful.
“We’re still in a rental. We’re still displaced. We’re still not with our community. We’re still not in our spot. We’re still paying our mortgage, we’re still paying our rates.
“But we’ve got nothing on our spot.”
Families are still in limbo a year on from the storm. Picture: Jason Edwards
Cockatoo resident and local SES member Ben Owen has also faced significant delays after his insurance company took months to decide its course of action.
“We went back to the insurance company and said ‘You build it’ and they sat on it for three months, and then said, ‘Nah, we’re going to pay you out,’” he told 3AW.
The 1000 steps, a popular tourist attraction, remains closed off with repairs yet to kick off at the picturesque walking trail.
Yarra Ranges Council estimates restoration costs to be close to $31.4m, fearing the rebuild could take more than five years.
Mayor Jim Child said: “Over the past 12 months a number of agencies have been available to help residents with the process of rebuilding, but for some residents, rebuilding has not even started yet and these services need to continue.”