Builyan State School principal Amelia Jenkins with student Sean Hayes, 10.
Builyan State School principal Amelia Jenkins with student Sean Hayes, 10.

Community spirit on a high but rain a constant concern

THE Boyne Valley is still recovering from the January floods, but community spirit is stronger than ever according to the Builyan school principal.

Amelia Jenkins was warned about floods before she started her new job, but she didn't expect one in her first week.

"It was raining really hard and we lost power but I didn't know how bad it was," she remembers. "I had no idea that people were on their roofs or how cut off we were until it stopped raining."

Builyan State School was able to open for the first day of term despite many students being stranded at home by floodwaters.

"We had power and phones coming on and off but we managed," she said.

And from there the school became a central point for the flood recovery efforts. Six months on Ms Jenkins said families were still hurting, but the tight-knit community was looking after each other.

"Nobody is throwing a pity party ... everyone is in high spirits," she said.

"It's really brought the community together. There's a real vision for the future and everyone is optimistic."

She said parent participation had dramatically increased since the floods.

"The whole community is getting a lot more involved with the school."

P&C secretary and local mother Rebecca Smith said it had been a busy year for the school and community.

"We're still playing catch up ... everybody is still so busy trying to sort things out," she said.

"People are still trying to find lost cattle and fix fences."

But the school community is making sure it is ready for next time. Mrs Smith said the P&C was talking about getting a generator and Mrs Jenkins was busy organising a flood recovery plan.

"We will send a few weeks' worth of work home with parents to keep in a safe place just in case we are flooded and they are cut off again."

Principal Amelia Jenkins with her students.
Principal Amelia Jenkins with her students.

Students get on with life after the floods

BUILYAN State School principal Amelia Jenkins remembers students tensing up whenever the sky grew overcast for weeks after the floods.

"There were some children who saw some pretty scary things," Mrs Jenkins said.

"You could see there was a fear from the rain, but that's gone now.

"They have coped really well. They are so resilient."

Twelve-year-old Tiarna Coogan remembers her brother kayaking through her front yard.

"We lost our fences and one of our dogs but we found him again, but it was scary knowing the people down the road were in a lot more trouble than us," she said.

"I was very worried for them but I was okay and I knew everything was going to be all right."

Nine-year-old Natasha Nay said it had been a scary experience.

"Our house was very badly flooded and we had no food or ice," she said.

Mrs Jenkins said the children understood it could flood again next year, but they also knew there was no point in being anxious about it.