The cost of relocating

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A Working Morwell family forced to re-locate because of the Hazelwood mine fire has been left with large insurance excess bill.

Shari Grunberg-Ross, her husband Brendan and their severely asthmatic son Kobi were forced to leave their Hazelwood Road home for the sake of their son’s health, but were not entitled to any government assistance because they were both employed.

“We couldn’t get any assistance because we don’t have a concession or pension card with what they presumed my wages would be,” Ms Grunberg-Ross said.

The family spent the first two weeks of the emergency at Ms Grunberg-Ross’s mother’s house in Yinnar, before claiming relocation and cleaning costs through their insurance provider.

While excess on the claim was $500 and would mean their insurance premium would rise, Ms Grunberg-Ross said her son’s health was her main concern.

Kobi has only visited his home once since the fires and suffered an asthma attack four days later as a result, according to Ms Grunberg-Ross.

“The fire started on the Sunday and we went there Thursday for a shower. We were only home for an hour and he just got a snotty nose and that snowballed into an attack on the Monday afternoon,” Ms Grunberg-Ross said.

“Usually at this time of year we’re just starting to introduce his asthma preventer with a dose per day, (but) we’ve had to implement his winter preventer plan early, which is twice per day because of this.”

Since making their claim, the family’s insurance provider put them up in a Mirboo North bed and breakfast. While Ms Grunberg-Ross said the accommodation was nice, the couple were paying $600 each week in fuel costs between them.

“I’m not screaming for money and I don’t mind not getting it, but it’s frustrating to hear stories of people who are getting money who haven’t genuinely relocated and are using the money for other things,” Ms Grunberg-Ross said.

“My biggest issue has been that we are on the south side and we are within a kilometre of the mine and our house is disgusting. It still smells of smoke now, Kobi hasn’t been home in over a month and we have had to relocate.”