Smiling in the face of disaster, 96 and 97-year-old Monaco residents Noelene and Lionel Wells stand outside their garage that was inundated in 1.25m of water. Photo: Brittany Spencer.

Elderly couple forced from home


After building a home together in the place they love, Noelene and Lionel Wells can’t bear to live in Monaco anymore.

The couple, who have lived together in their Martin St home for the last 40 years, is facing moving into a retirement home after the devastation left behind by Thursday’s storm.

The combination of a relentless king tide and a major storm flooded roads, houses and led to evacuations, with Lionel saying it was the worst storm he’d ever seen in all his years at Monaco.

“We’ve had a few not-too-nice storms but nothing like this. I am devastated.”

Noelene says she looked out at the ocean at 9am and knew “something drastic” was going to happen.

“I knew we were going to be in trouble, there was an enormous quantity of water and it all came in in one big ‘wompf’.

“I couldn’t believe it was happening but I had to because it was and we were right in amongst it. I had to accept it, I couldn’t do anything else.”

The pair were walked and carried to Nelson Surf Life Saving Club rescue boats and then ferried across the surf to police officers at The Honest Lawyer.

The whole experience was quite an ordeal for the couple, but the worst part was yet to come.

After the tide turned and the flood water subsided, Noelene and Lionel returned to their home, but nothing could have prepared them for what they saw.

The garden Noelene spent hundreds of hours on has been completely washed away, large appliances, wood and numerous items cover the property, and mud covers everything.

A stark watermark sits high along the house, fence and garage.

The garage door frame has been pushed out and the front gate has been thrown off its hinges.

“This is heartbreaking,” Nolene says.

“It is the most hideous thing that could ever happen and I’m sick of crying about it to tell you the truth.”

Despite loving living in Monaco, Noelene says they can’t live there anymore.

“It has all been taken away again and everything is such a mess so this time its curtains, we’re finished, we will go to a retirement village, we have to.”