This is not Wendy Bullard’s first flood.
But it might be the one that breaks her.
The Westport woman’s tears flow – a mixture of sadness, anger, frustration, hoplessness, exhaustion – as she surveys her water-filled and muddy home.
Photo albums with decades of family memories; sopping wet, destroyed.
Her most personal and loved possessions float in the filthy brown and cold water.
“Everything… my whole life up to this point, 58 years… my daughters’ things,” she said, her voice breaking as she tried to stifle emotion.
“It’s a living nightmare.”
Bullard has owned her Romilly St home since 2013 and it’s her pride, her joy, her haven.
Well, it was. Until yesterday.
Like hundreds of others in the Buller District, Bullard was evacuated as floodwaters rose through the West Coast region.
She returned to her property this morning and took the Herald inside as she saw the damage for the first time.
“I’m in shock, as you can imagine,” she said as she sloshed through the knee-height water.
“It’s gone through… oh look, you can actually see how high it got… sh*t.”
Bullard lives alone, her daughters in New York and Auckland.
She has lived through floods before but this is like nothing she’s seen.
“I saved a few things, I tried to save what I could,” she told the Herald, picking through the wet mess.
She tried to use cardboard and sandbags to stop the water coming in through the doors – but to no avail.
A thick layer of mud filled her bathroom, things she put on higher furniture got bumped off as the water flooded through.
“Jeez… this is what it’s like,” she said.
“It’s really wet. [The house] has totally had it probably.
“Things I shifted onto chairs have popped off and are floating… it’s been destroyed as well. I’m gutted, I’m in shock.
“It’s been two days and I am feeling more and more gutted.”
Bullard will be staying with friends for the foreseeable future.
She was desperate to hear from officials about what would happen.
She said no one had contacted her yet and she wanted to know what their plan was for the district.
Last time she went through a flood she said her insurance company and the local council were excruciatingly slow to assist. It was a painful process.
“I guess we just have to wait and see,” she said.
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