A Pauatahanui dairy owner whose store was damaged by fire and a flood within two days is thanking the community not only for saving her life, but rallying in the aftermath.
Gita Patel, who owns the Pauatahanui General Store with husband Nanu, was still feeling shaken so asked Rural Trading Post owner Diane Boyack to speak on her behalf.
Mrs Patel was serving customers on Sunday morning, February 2, when a fire started in the shop's deep fat fryer. It took firefighters 40 minutes to contain the blaze, which damaged the side of the 15-year-old shop and part of its roof.
Workers from the Challenge petrol station and GroundUp Cafe helped Mrs Patel out of the shop, Ms Boyack says.
"She thanks them for saving her life, she's very grateful."
The next day heavy rains caused flooding in the building.
The Patels live behind the shop with their two teenage sons. People in the community offered them places to stay and dropped off meals, Ms Boyack says.
"There's been a lot of community support, just making sure they're OK. Emotional support as well."
The dairy was able to reopen the day after the fire, but the deep fat fryer remains out of action until repairs are approved by the Patels' insurance company.
Mrs Patel did not realise how cherished she and her family were until the fire, Mrs Boyack says.
She is still deeply affected by the emergency, Mrs Boyack says. "She's not sleeping well, she says she keeps thinking about the fire."
- Kapi-Mana News