Keith and Kerrie Levy battle fourth flood in their Windsor home as Sydney is drenched


A couple is battling to save their heritage Sydney home as it floods for the fourth time in six months since they moved in.

Keith and Kerrie Levy bought the 200-year-old four-storey house in Windsor, on Sydney’s northwest fringe, for $1.975 million and moved in from Dural on December 23.

Since then, they have barely spent any time actually living in their new home, forced to constantly move furniture in and out as floodwaters poured into the lower levels.

Days after finally settling back in after two floods in March and another in April, they have again cleared out their valuables as Sydney is drenched by yet another once-in-a-century storm.

Kerrie and Keith Levy are battling to limit the damage to their heritage home in Sydney as it floods for the fourth time in six months since they moved in

They bought the 200-year-old four-storey house in Windsor, on Sydney's northwest fringe, for $1.975 million and moved in from Dural on December 23

They bought the 200-year-old four-storey house in Windsor, on Sydney’s northwest fringe, for $1.975 million and moved in from Dural on December 23

Dozens of Sydney suburbs are under threat of going underwater and 71 evacuation orders are in place as heavy rain falls and NSW faces what could be the worst flooding in 18 months. 

‘It’s not good, but it is what it is,’ Mr Levy told Daily Mail Australia as he watched floodwaters from the swollen Hawkesbury River steadily rise from his balcony, again. 

The lower ground floor is filling up with water, rising from about a foot early on Monday morning to double that by 11am and threatening to spill into the upper levels.

Mr and Mrs Levy said after the area flooded in March 2021 they expected their home would be safe, but instead expect to spend at least $40,000 dealing with the four deluges.

‘Before it flooded last year there hadn’t been one since the 1990s so we thought that would be it, the flooding is done,’ Mr Levy said.

‘Instead we’ve had a bad run almost since we moved in and they’re saying there will be another flood by the end of the year. We’ll be glad to see the end of this weather cycle.’

The view from the balcony on Sunday night after the rain thundered down and the Hawkesbury River burst its banks, flooding the bridge and rising steadily towards the house. Earlier in the day the Levys cleared out the bottom floor

The view from the balcony on Sunday night after the rain thundered down and the Hawkesbury River burst its banks, flooding the bridge and rising steadily towards the house. Earlier in the day the Levys cleared out the bottom floor

Floodwater submerges the backyard and rushes in to the lower ground floor of the house during the first flood in early March

Floodwater submerges the backyard and rushes in to the lower ground floor of the house during the first flood in early March

One of many points of entry to the bottom floor where the water rushed in, with sandbags and windows useless in keeping it out

One of many points of entry to the bottom floor where the water rushed in, with sandbags and windows useless in keeping it out

The local auctioneer said the couple were concerned about the future of their beloved home, and just hoped they could weather the storms.

‘It’s hard as we’re new to all this unlike a lot of people here. We’re hoping once we’re through it (the La Nina weather cycle), it won’t flood for a while,’ he said.

Mr Levy said the worst part was waiting for the affected parts of the house to dry out enough to be habitable, which took months after the last floods.

‘We only just moved everything back in on Saturday and the next day we’re moving it all back out again when the rains started again,’ he said.

‘Last time we lost a lot of stuff as we weren’t fast enough, but this time we were ready and got a trailer and moved everything of value out yesterday.’

The couple will again lose gas and power as it must be switched off to protect it from the flooding. 

The flooded garage where in one of the floods the door (pictured) was punched in by the raging torrent

The flooded garage where in one of the floods the door (pictured) was punched in by the raging torrent

Ms Levy desperately tries to pump water out of the flooded home during the March flood after the river receded days later

Ms Levy desperately tries to pump water out of the flooded home during the March flood after the river receded days later

Mr Levy said the lower ground floor was vulnerable as the terrace filled out with water and spilled through windows straight inside

 Mr Levy said the lower ground floor was vulnerable as the terrace filled out with water and spilled through windows straight inside

How climate crusader predicted no more floods 

Tim Flannery, one of Australia’s most eminent climate experts and former chief commissioner of the Climate Commission, in 2007 predicted there would not be enough rain for devastating floods.

He in 2007, days after being named Australian of the Year, claimed to ABC’s Landline that the climate had shifted so much due to global warming that rain would not even fill the dams.

‘We’re already seeing the initial impacts and they include a decline in the winter rainfall zone across southern Australia, which is clearly an impact of climate change, but also a decrease in run-off,’ he said.

‘Although we’re getting say a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas of Australia, that’s translating to a 60 per cent decrease in the run-off into the dams and rivers. 

‘That’s because the soil is warmer because of global warming and the plants are under more stress and therefore using more moisture. 

‘So even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems, and that’s a real worry for the people in the bush. 

‘If that trend continues then I think we’re going to have serious problems, particularly for irrigation.’

Since then, Australia has endured two rounds of devastating floods that destroyed thousands of home and killed dozens of people.

Mr Levy said the lower ground floor was vulnerable as the terrace filled out with water and spilled through windows straight inside.

‘We used a mountain of sandbags last time and got pumps to get the water out but it didn’t go any good, even the garage door blew out, which we didn’t expect,’ he said.

‘So this time we’ve just opened everything up to let it in and limit the damage and hope it doesn’t rise too much.’

Mr Levy said about two metres of water could flow into the lower ground floor before it threatened the rest of the house, and the front door was safe until the river reached about 15m.

During the last flood, the river hit 13.7m.

The couple have no flood insurance as it would cost them a ‘simply unaffordable’ $25,000 to $30,000 extra a year.

‘Insurance is just too high, lots of people here are in the same boat and we just have to hope there’s not more damage than that over the long run,’ he said.

‘We’re not in a designated flood zone, but the dam level is not being managed appropriately. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know the dam was going to flood.’

Beyond repairing the immediate damage, repeated floods meant water found its way into the 200-year-old bricks and sandstone, cracking the plaster and requiring major, expensive work to restore.

Keeping the heritage home, described as a ‘jewel of the Hawkesbury’, in good repair is a top priority for the Levys, given its rich history.

The hand-carved sandstone basement dates from 1819 as The Lord Nelson Inn, with the upper floors added in 1844 making it a classic example of an Australian colonial terrace.

A succession of doctors owned the house and ran their practices in it from 1858 to 1992, earning it the nickname ‘Doctors House’.

After the last doctor retired, it was sold several times and more than doubled in value since its previous sale in 2011 for $850,000.

The bottom level that flooded four times this year includes a wine cellar and tasting room (pictured) that was totally submerged by the floods and is now two feet underwater - and rising

The bottom level that flooded four times this year includes a wine cellar and tasting room (pictured) that was totally submerged by the floods and is now two feet underwater – and rising

The flooded floor also contains this lounge area with one of the house's nine antique fireplaces - all of which will need yet another cleanout

 The flooded floor also contains this lounge area with one of the house’s nine antique fireplaces – all of which will need yet another cleanout

The terrace before it flooded, showing how far the water rose during previous flood, with this one expected to be just as bad

The terrace before it flooded, showing how far the water rose during previous flood, with this one expected to be just as bad

The bottom level that flooded four times this year includes a wine cellar and tasting room, a poker room, and a lounge area with one of the house’s nine antique fireplaces.

The rest of the house includes original floorboards and a grand staircase, four bedrooms and a study, two bathrooms, and a wraparound veranda with metal ornate handrails and a view of the Hawkesbury River and Blue Mountains.

Mr Levy said despite their struggles, he and Kerrie were more fortunate than many of their neighbours and thousands of others along the eastern Australian coast.

‘We’re just lucky we haven’t lost our homes and livelihoods like a lot of people,’ he said.

Flooding is not a recent problem for the house, as shown in this very old photo of the river coming right up to it after bursting its banks

Flooding is not a recent problem for the house, as shown in this very old photo of the river coming right up to it after bursting its banks

The house is just 50m from the banks of the Hawkesbury River but still needed to rise past an embankment and a retaining wall at the bottom of the house - and did

The house is just 50m from the banks of the Hawkesbury River but still needed to rise past an embankment and a retaining wall at the bottom of the house – and did

Two centuries of history they’re battling to save

The hand-carved sandstone basement dates from 1819 as The Lord Nelson Inn, with the upper floors added in 1844 making it a classic example of an Australian colonial terrace.

A succession of doctors owned the house and ran their practices in it from 1858 to 1992, earning it the nickname ‘Doctors House’.

After the last doctor retired, it was sold several times and more than doubled in value since its previous sale in 2011 for $850,000.

The bottom level that flooded four times this year includes a wine cellar and tasting room, a poker room, and a lounge area with one of the house’s nine antique fireplaces.

The rest of the house includes original floorboards and a grand staircase, four bedrooms and a study, two bathrooms, and a wraparound veranda with metal ornate handrails and a view of the Hawkesbury River and Blue Mountains.

More than 32,000 people across the state were urged to leave their homes and another 6,000 told to be on alert and ready to leave as 64 more evacuation warnings were issued.

There is major flooding in North Richmond, with river levels exceeding that reached in March (15.92m), with more rises possible, and major concern of water levels at Sydney Basin, and the Hawkesbury, Nepean, and Georges Rivers.

Camden is among the worst hit towns, submerged for the fourth time this year while parts of Lansvale, Chipping Norton, and Moorebank also went underwater.

The State Emergency Service responded to 3,500 calls for help since the weekend, with 400 calls made overnight, and carried out about 120 flood rescues, with those numbers expected to increase.

The Bureau of Meteorology warned the rainfall was expected to continue along the coast for the rest of the week and more downpours were forecast throughout winter and possibly into next summer.

SES spokesman Ashely Sullivan said even if the rain eased this week, as predicted, rivers would continue to rise because the ground was already saturated from the last flood emergency.

Premier Dominic Perrottet urged residents to follow SES instructions and to not attempt to drive through the floodwaters.

‘People drive through flood waters because they can’t see the depth of the road beneath,’ he said in a press conference on Monday.

‘You cannot appreciate how deep that water is. Please do not drive through flood waters and keep you and your family safe and ensure the SES and other volunteers don’t have to put their life on the line.’

A man is rescued from his car by State Emergency Service workers in Windsor on Monday after thousands of residents were forced to leave their homes overnight and evacuation orders are in place across Sydney

A man is rescued from his car by State Emergency Service workers in Windsor on Monday after thousands of residents were forced to leave their homes overnight and evacuation orders are in place across Sydney

Properties and roads are submerged under floodwater from the swollen Hawkesbury River, in Windsor

Properties and roads are submerged under floodwater from the swollen Hawkesbury River, in Windsor

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk