Maxi Bader buys a house and loses it all at 19
TEARS glisten in Maxi Bader's clear green eyes as she looks around the dream home she moved into only hours before floodwater ravaged it.
Today it sits empty.
But in the 19-year-old's mind she can see herself last Thursday, organising the new, matching furniture she had lovingly hand-picked for each inch of the Elphinstone St, Rockhampton, house.
After four years of saving up for a deposit for her very own home, the Biloela girl achieved that dream five months ago. Four months later and she paid off up to $20,000 worth of new furniture.
And at midday on Thursday she called her mum Karen, who still lives in Biloela, excitedly describing each piece of furniture and her dinner plans for her first guests.
But on Thursday night she saw her dreams sinking in brown, muddied floodwater and debris.
Her next phone call to her mum caused Karen to jump in her car with Maxi's younger brother and his girlfriend and immediately make the three-hour drive to Rockhampton.
When flash flooding submerged two nearby gullies on Rockhampton's second wettest day on record it gushed into Maxi's home.
The house is not in the Q100 and is not set to go under during floods, so Maxi had no warning.
Like many people across the region, ex-tropical Cyclone Oswald caught Maxi unawares.
When water first began rising from the torrential rain Maxi rushed to Mitre 10 to buy a shovel and sandbags, hoping to dig a drain to divert the water away from her house.
By the time Maxi returned home the water was so high and running so fast it almost knocked her off her feet and it later dinted her garage door. But she refused to leave her new home.
Wading out into her front yard, alone and with no one in Rockhampton to call on, the young girl screamed for help. Maxi's neighbour yelled at her to get out of the water.
But the Biloela girl who had worked two jobs at one point to save up to buy her own home and own car wouldn't leave without a fight.
Neighbours, strangers and old family friends turned up at Maxi's home to help her remove everything they could.
By the time Karen arrived Maxi was emotionally spent.
Maxi collapsed and couldn't stop crying.
It was only her fourth time in the house that had become a sanctuary from her job working on the Miles to Curtis Island gas pipeline.
Maxi works 28 days straight, then has a nine day break.
Now, she's not sure if she feels safe enough to stay in the house for even one of her days off.
But after being raised by a single mum who built their family home with her own hands and the help of a builder over three years, Maxi had been taught better than to let floodwater keep her down.
"My mum had to start from scratch and I didn't want to be like that," Maxi said.
"I always wanted to be financially secure."
Despite it all, she can now see the humour through her pain.
Maxi knows she's one-of-a-kind - even if it's for the wrong reason.
"No one else can say 'I bought a house and lost it at 19'," Maxi joked.
"I've given up a lot of my social life, it's just backfired. But I think I'd be bored any other way. The house keeps giving me projects - I just don't like what it's given me."
Maxi's plan to study veterinary science this year is up in the air and she's on antibiotics after a cut on her foot became infected by floodwater.
An assessor also told her and Karen on Wednesday that everything under 1.2m had to be removed and replaced - that means the entire bathroom and kitchen.
She will also have to rebuild her fence and completely re-do her new yard.
Maxi had partially insured the house, but as she had just received her furniture she had not had time to organise contents insurance.
But when it comes to Maxi - nothing's over until she says it is.
"It will be all right," she said. "I'll fix it - I'll save up again."
The family is discussing building a retaining wall around the house, but said they would have to speak with neighbours because they don't want the water to be funnelled into their yards.