What happens when a coasting home collapses
It’s a scene that echoes across the nation’s south coast.
The sea has turned the land into a mud-walled grave, trapping residents and residents-in-waiting in a land of sand and rock, their homes and lives in tatters.
A woman on a rock, surrounded by the wreckage of her two-bedroom home, looks on.
“I thought it was just going to go away,” she said.
But the collapse on the island of Palau is far worse.
For years, it was a popular holiday destination for residents of a small fishing village.
After a landslide swept away a stretch of shoreline in 2006, the community lost all of its structures, including its wooden cottage.
Now, with a population of around 600, the area is home to just two people, all living in tents.
The houses and houses-in need are staggering.
One of the houses in the village, a three-storey house, is completely submerged.
It was constructed of a wooden slab of mud and has a concrete slab floor.
At the other end of the block is a three story brick house, a one-storeys brick building with an attached kitchen, dining room and living room.
The second house, built of concrete and wooden slabs, was damaged by the landslide, but is now almost complete.
In between the houses, there is a makeshift fishing pier that was built out of salvaged wood from the house.
All of these houses were built to support one family.
That’s the reality for residents like Laura Kwan-Pil.
She and her husband, Ken, have lived on the Palau Islands for 25 years, and have three children.
They have lived in a wooden cottage on the small island of the islands for five years.
As a result of the landslide disaster, they now have to live in the makeshift homes of people who are no longer around.
Laura is now in the process of moving into a new two-storeyd house on the mainland, a building made from salvaged materials, which will not only support her family but also help to feed and house the other people who live on the islands.
Ken and Laura, a mother and father, said that it’s important for people to realise that what happened to them is not a small event, but one that has been happening for decades.
“When we were living in the wooden cottage, we were only living off the sea and it was very hard to survive,” Laura said.
“We never thought we would see a collapse like this, but we do now and we will always look back on this as the tipping point.
When I came to Palau, the sea was just so thick that there were only a few days of sunlight at any one time.”
In the end, Laura said the landslide destroyed more than half of the island’s houses.
Her home was badly damaged, and her family now have nowhere to go and no one to call on for help.
Laura and her three children live on a small island called Waiheke, and were lucky enough to be evacuated from the coastal area by the Australian government.
While they are fortunate enough to still have their home, the other residents of Waihemke are not.
And there is no guarantee that the disaster won’t happen again, with more landslides and waves expected to hit the island.
On the other side of the world, a woman is trying to make sense of her predicament.
Sydney’s former mayor and former prime minister, Peter Beattie, is the only person who can help.
He has spent most of his life in politics, having served as deputy prime minister from 1995 to 2000, mayor of Sydney from 2004 to 2010 and leader of the Liberal Party from 2008 to 2014.
Beattie has lived on Palau for more than 40 years, but he’s never seen anything like what’s happened to the residents of Pala.
Before the disaster, Beattia lived on a fishing boat in the nearby island of Kiribati, and when the landslide occurred, he and his wife fled to the mainland.
Palau was home to the people of Kiribo, and the island has been home to Beatties family ever since.
“I’m not able to do anything,” Beattee said.
“It’s my only option.”
Beathie is now helping to raise funds to help rebuild the damaged island, with the aim of opening the community to people from across the world.
His donation to the island will be matched by the city of Sydney.
Many of the residents are already back on their feet.
I just want to go back to my family.
I’ve got nothing left to live for, and it’s not even Christmas yet, he said.
But the devastation is still too much. My kids