The Forgotten Victims

Tammie Fogarty and Joseph Julcher. Photo by Katie O'Brien.
Tammie Fogarty and Joseph Julcher. Photo by Katie O'Brien.

Josef Julcher can’t remember much about Christmas night when the tornado whipped through the community.

However, six months on he and his daughter, Tammie Fogarty, are still struggling with the impact it’s had on their lives.

The 90-year-old has Alzheimer’s and the father and daughter have been living in limbo while the insurance company deliberates over whether to demolish or repair the home they built 30 years ago.

“Because of his Alzheimer’s he’s so confused and I’ve not been able to go back to work full time because he needs full time care,” Tammie said.

“He can’t familiarise himself with the house we are renting so he wanders and gets lost in the house.

“When we go to the house to do maintenance, he can’t understand why we can’t stay there.

“You can see him grieving the loss of his home.”

Tammie said she expects the insurance company engineers to declare it a total loss and they’ll have to rebuild.

“I hope we can get home before it comes a time I have to put him in a nursing home,” she said.

The tornado ripped the roof off their house on Wongawallen Drive, taking the verandah with it.

Tammie was returning from work. Josef was downstairs. The internal stairwell was clogged with debris and trees, forcing her to have to break in to get to him. 

“The wall had partially collapsed next to his bed, and he was wet from the rain,” Tammie recalled.

Initially Tammie was put in a caravan by her insurer, but it wasn’t safe for Josef, so he had to be put in hospital, where he stayed for six weeks until the insurance company agreed to cover renal costs on a house at Guanaba.

Tammie fears the accommodation budget will run out before they are back in their own home.

She said she feels forgotten now the initial clean up and support has ended, despite so many people still struggling to come to terms with the impact the event had on their lives.

A daily battle

Seventy-nine-year-old Karin Exner is one of those also forgotten and facing a daily battle without a home.

The pole home she built 28 years ago on the western ridge near the Eagle Heights Hotel shook “like mad” as the tornado swept over, smashing every window.

“It was horrible, horrible. One of my neighbours rescued me. I don’t know how I got out of there,” she said.

“I’m still suffering. My mental health is cracking up a bit.”

Karin is living in a boarding house in emergency accommodation. 

“It’s very unsettling for someone my age, working all the years to have no mortgage,” she said.

“Devastated is the only word that fits,” she said of losing her home. It’s a miracle I haven’t thought about doing away with myself.”

She has just received a payout from her insurer, but said it wasn’t much and she is worried now the emergency accommodation funds have finished she will eat through the payout money while she waits for the land to sell before she can buy another home.

She has no idea if she will be able to afford to buy on the mountain.

“I need to be somewhere where I will be safe, and I can afford,” she explained.

Karin's home is still uninhabitable. Image supplied.
Karin’s home is still uninhabitable. Image supplied.

Jodi Meynell has been supporting locals affected by the tornado since day one.

As a volunteer delivery driver for Meals on Wheels, Jodi has seen firsthand the impact it had on the some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

“The first thing was to make sure they could be collected by family and have power for food, then it was getting them fresh water and delivering food on a daily basis,” she said.

Jodi explained that many affected were elderly and left isolated in their homes for a week with no one checking on them.

“The good thing is no one died,” she stated.

“Insurance companies were incredibly slow to get on to repairs. Now they have been in emergency accommodation for so long the insurance money has run out and the repairs have still not been done.

“There are half a dozen people where the work hasn’t even started yet.

“They are having to pay their mortgages as well rent, putting great strain on families. Their pets are having to be put up elsewhere, which means the whole family has been separated for six months.”

With few rental properties available on the mountain some families were forced to find accommodation as far away as Brisbane and Ipswich and commute daily for work or school.

“There is a set team of people in the community still doing things to help. But a lot of people would have no clue some are still battling,” Jodi said.

“I don’t feel anything has been learned by this and I don’t feel anything will be different next time.

“I’d love to see a better system from council or the government to react more rapidly. It took them two weeks to give us a list of people to contact. In that two weeks was when we needed help, but it wasn’t there.”


Tamborine-based organisation, Leadership Under the Stars have received a grant to host a Christmas in July event on July 27 to celebrate the spirit of those who helped out during the tornado recovery at Tamborine Memorial Hall from 2-4pm.

It will be an afternoon of free activities and food. 


The Queensland Government is also offering grants for people affected by the storms including the Essential Household Contents Grant to replace essential household items.

The Essential Services Safety and Reconnection Scheme (ESSRS) is to help with for safety inspection and repairs to reconnect essential services e.g. gas, water, electricity and sewage.

The Structural Assistance Grant is to help with structural repairs or a contribution towards dwelling replacement.

Full details can be found at:

Queensland Rural and Development Industry Authority also has grants available for primary producers and industry.