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Cyclone Debbie: Homeowner who refused to leave after house blew off stumps brings it back to its level best

Sophie Meixner, Sunday August 13, 2017 - 19:40 EST
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Mr Warden is enjoying sleeping in a bed that is not on a downwards slope. - ABC

A north Queensland man who spent three months living in a house on a sharp slant after it was torn off its stumps by Cyclone Debbie can finally say his house is dead level.

Bloomsbury disability pensioner Ivan Warden was in his living room during the cyclone in late March when one side of the house was on the ground.

He was rescued by a neighbour after being stuck in his house for 24 hours as the 2-metre slant made it impossible to open his living room door.

In the aftermath he has worked to slowly jack the house back up with the slant reducing day by day.

Despite police urging him to leave, he has lived in the house throughout the whole process due to concerns about looters.

Perks of a level house



Mr Warden said he was enjoying sleeping in a bed that was not sloping downwards and being able to open and close doors easily.



"It feels a lot better rather than walking up and down slopes and hanging on to doors so that they don't slam on you," he said.

"[To] sleep in a bed with a slope on it I had put some blocks under one end.

"I still turned from the head of the bed to sleeping at the foot of the bed so that I could put my feet against the headboard to stop myself sliding down during the night.

"Just doing dishes and making dinner every night — the fridge had to be on blocks to keep the doors closed."





Slow process of raising house

Mr Warden said the underlying steel structure of the house escaped undamaged so the process was simply a matter of raising the house, slowly.

"Myself and one or two other people at different times — very slowly so nobody got hurt, with chains and things holding the house — it was just slowly jacked on massive big steel beams and held up to where new stumps can be put back under [it] again," he said.

Because the house was not insured, he relied on savings, disaster relief assistance, and calling in favours from friends to complete the restoration.

"We're in a very lucky country," he said.



"Taxpayer money — I got a little bit from that — and bit of savings, and I haven't really spent that much getting back up.

"I've got a lot of friends that I've done favours for over the years that have come to give me a hand."

Feeling confident next cyclone season

Following the cyclone in late March, Mr Warden refused to leave the house, despite police urging him to vacate.



"I was still living in the house on a funny slope," he said.

"[Police] couldn't guarantee nobody was going to come and steal things, and it was just as well I did stay here because there's been quite a few people chased away. We have had some looting.

He said he "won't be worried at all" when the next cyclone season arrives because the house will soon be reinforced with concrete tilt walls.

"It's very, very solid and there's no way the house will move again," he said.

"If it moves then everybody's [house] is gone."


- ABC

© ABC 2017

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