Flood recovery - Rising to the challenge

Michael Bulley's Donut King outlet in Townsville's Fairfield Central Shopping Centre was completely destroyed during the 2019 monsoon flood event.

Left uninsured, and having just paid for a full shop refurbishment, he faced paying for a second new shop fit-out.

“We’d enjoyed a thriving business at Fairfield for several years,” Michael said.

“It’s a great little shopping centre. The inundation of water destroyed the shop, and we needed to rebuild from the ground up.

“It was pretty stressful at the time. We’d just paid for a full refurbishment and had lost that completely.”

After the flood, Michael successfully applied for the Australian and Queensland Governments' $50,000 Special Disaster Assistance Recovery Grant for small businesses. He’s grateful for the country’s “life changing” support when he needed it most.

“Looking back, I’m certain we wouldn’t have been able to reopen without the grant,” he said.

“We were in a perilous position - it was absolutely a lifesaver.”

Michael’s Fairfield Donut King closed for 203 days, reopening on 25 September 2019.

“That was a great day for us,” he said.

“We were eventually able to hire back all 12 of our staff, which was very satisfying.

“And our business immediately picked up, too. After a couple of months, the money we were taking at the shop settled at about 15 percent above previous years. We were certainly getting back on track.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately cut short Michael’s massive sigh of relief.

“The impact on the business is just unbelievable,” he said.

“We’re aiming to go ahead as usual for as long as we can, but not sure what’s going to happen. Right now, the situation changes every day.

“We’re in for a challenging time ahead - again in a period of uncertainty.”

Having pulled through one big setback, Michael is determined not to let the current challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic shake his optimism.

“The empathy shown to us last year by the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority made this ordeal a whole lot easier to go through,” he said.

“Their patience and help was outstanding, this made the process a lot less stressful in a time of chaos for us.”

“We’ll find a way through this latest setback, we’re staying positive.”

For the Australian Government’s latest updates about COVID-19, including health information, community resources and business support, see www.australia.gov.au

To view our video case study on Michael Bulley and his Donut King store following the 2019 monsoon flood, click here.

In October 2020 the Australian Government released After the flood: A strategy for long-term recovery. The Strategy was developed by the National Drought and Flood Agency, with and for communities affected by the 2019 North Queensland flood event.  This blueprint for the region’s future can be used by anyone with a stake in its long-term prosperity. You can read more about it here.