Wagga family return from a holiday to find their home destroyed

It’s still hard for Juliette Cavendish to believe she has no home. 

Homeless: Lulu Cavendish, 10, her mother Juliette and her sister Jem returned from a UK visit to find their home destroyed and everything gone. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

Homeless: Lulu Cavendish, 10, her mother Juliette and her sister Jem returned from a UK visit to find their home destroyed and everything gone. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

The Wagga photographer has lived a nightmare since she returned from a UK holiday with her daughters to find everything destroyed by a freak flood. 

The Cavendishes were one of more than 150 families across Wagga that fell victim to frozen and burst water meters, following the big cold snap two-weeks ago.

But the trio weren’t at their Springvale home when it filled with water and mould infested their belongings. 

They lost everything. 

“I’m just in shock,” Ms Cavendish said.

“How do you replace a home?”

While there were no signs of damage from the outside of her “Tudor-style” house, “it was like a bomb had gone off” inside and the family was greeted by the foul and overwhelming stench of black mould.

The trio are appealing to the Wagga community for help as they attempt to replace their winter clothes and search for a short-term, pet-friendly lease.

Ms Cavendish said they were left with the items they packed for an English summer and a few personal bits and pieces.

She said the pictures on the walls and their photo albums had all but perished. 

“It’s completely horrific,” Ms Cavendish said. 

“I realised I don’t own any shoes. I’m wearing gumboots.” 

The UK-born mother-of-two is staying with her 19-year-old daughter Jem and 10-year-old Lulu in a single-room at a motel in the city, while their insurance claim is sorted and they decide their future. 

“Our animals are stuck in the kennels which is maybe one of the worst parts of this,” Ms Cavendish said. “They’re part of our family.” 

Ms Cavendish said it was hard to ask for help but her family was in crisis.

“We’ll need somewhere to live while we figure out what to do,” Ms Cavendish said. 

“Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.”

Deakin student Jem Cavendish had come back from a scholarship-funded summer course in England to find everything from her childhood gone. 

It's like something's died inside of you. - Lulu Cavendish, 10

Clutching her teddy, Jem’s sister Lulu, 10, said: “It’s like something’s died inside of you.”

Donations to help the family back on their feet can be made HERE.

According to Riverina Water County Council, the number of homes that reported flooding as a result of July’s minus-4 and minus-5 degree days was “unprecedented”.

Riverina Water engineer Bede Spannagle said meters were made of a brittle brass and should be covered in winter. 

“We’ll issue (covers) for free because they are proper covers,” Mr Spangle said.

“Just call 6922 0608.”

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