Daniel, Helen and Zander Gallo outside their home at Luscombe after 1.5 metres of floodwater went through it on April 3. Photo: Lisa Maree WilliamsA stranger has come to the rescue of the Gallo family by offering them a temporary luxury home rent-free for a year, after raging floodwaters washed away one house on their property and inundated the other before theireyes.
Almost a week ago the family of four and theirtwo dogswere plucked from the roof of their father-in-law’s home in Luscombe, 45 kilometressouth-east of Brisbane,by SES crews. Momentslater, the house wasripped apart by the swollen river, while the family’s main home saw 1.5 metres of floodwaters tear through it, leaving them with only what they were carrying –a handful of clothes.
But on Thursday, a good Samaritanwas listening to the ‘Lend a Hand’segment on radio station Triple M. SteveScanlanoffered the family a five-bedroom house in Eight Mile Plains, south-east of the Brisbane CBD.
Mr Scanlan said his previous tenants had just moved outwhen he heard the Gallofamily’s “incredible story” and said they should be comfortable in theiraccommodation, with the property featuring an indoor spa, heated pool, twoen suites and a recent refurbishment.
“It’s the perfect place for them to get their feet back on the ground and not have to worry,” he said.”I knew this is what I had to do.”
Mr Scanlan offered his property rent-free for a year and said he was able to afford it, but would have to make some changes in his life.In particular, he said an overseas holiday he had planned would have to wait.
“I’d be happy to not go on a holiday for 10 years to give this family this house,” he said.
“It doesn’t even matter at the end of the day, after seeingwhat these people have gone through.”
74 Blue Grass Crescent, Eight Mile Plains, was donated to the Gallo family rent-free for a year. Photo: Supplied
Mr Scanlan said his greatest worry was whether his new tenants would like the house or find themselvestoo far away fromfriends and family.
However, if the Gallos did like the home, Mr Scanlan was happy to discuss extending their stay.
Helen Gallo said she was “completely overwhelmed” when she heard the offer live on radio. She said the community had been incredibly supportive after the tragedy, with people coming from as far asToowoomba to help them clean up.
“My family, the community, the street are amazing,” Ms Gallo said.
“We’ve got neighbours putting on a barbecue and people rocking up with gloves, water,food and they’re off working to clean up.”
The family’s ordeal started about11.30pm on Monday, when the nearby Albert River broke its banks and sent raging floodwaters across the property.
Ms Gallo gathered her family at the american-style barn where her father-in-law lived because it was higher than the main residence and to ensure everyone stayed together. However, within 45 minutes the water had risen to the landing,by 1am the attached garage had been washed away and the family were left clinging to the roof of the barn.
Ms Gallo said shehad her feet braced against the gutter with her two children, 11-year-old Zander and eight-year-old Sienna,behind her to ensure no one slid off into the water. Meanwhileher 70-year-old father-in-law John and two husky pups, Storm and Thunder, were sheltering inside the house.
Ms Gallo’s husband Daniel was only reunited with his family later after trying several different roads to reach them but finding all were cut off.
“It just came so fast,” Ms Gallo said.
“There was once when I thought, ‘this could be it’.
“But you just have to stay strong and be a rock for your kids.”
After making 16 calls to emergency services and communicating withtriple-zerooperators, Ms Gallo saw the rescue boat atthe end of her street.
“I was just so relieved,” she said.
“They had kept telling me previously that ‘we just can’t get to you’ due to the force of the water.”
Logan SES controllerJim Ferguson and his team said the water was so strong it took them an hour to travel about 1.5 kilometres up the river with the motoron the boat going flat out.
Afterspending about three hours on the roof of thebarn, the Gallos wererescuedminutes before the building was washed away and crushed.
“It’s like one of those things you see in the movie, when you actually see it and think of the weight and how much pressure is in that water you just think ‘wow’,” Ms Gallo said.
“I’m just so thankful they (the SES) did what they did.”
The family had owned the propertyfor four years and long-term residents in the area said they had never seen water do what it did to the Gallos’ home.
Both buildings wereinsured, but Ms Gallo was waiting to find out what the policies would cover.
Ms Gallo and her two children were staying at her sister’s house, while Mr Gallo and a few mates were staying in a donated caravan on-site to guard against looters who were ransacking the area.
They werehoping to see Mr Scanlan’s offered house next week and give their children some normality after the trauma of the flood.
First appeared on the Brisbane Times.