Readers respond to help Hoopers
The tears are flowing again for Derek and Ceridwen Hooper but this time they are tears of joy.
The story of the Foxton couple, who have been living in a campervan while their formerly methamphetamine-contaminated retirement house is rebuilt from the inside, has struck a chord with people all over the country - who have in their hundreds offered their labour, their building materials and their money to get them back in their house.
The Manawatu Standard reported on the Hoopers' plight on Friday, after it was brought to light by SBR Plastering owner Kris Harding in the hope the community would come together to help them.
Mr Harding said since the story had run he had been drowning in goodwill.
"We'll be able to finish the house and more. It's been amazing. My only problem is that I can't have 100 people turning up on the job to help so I'm having to limit it to those who know what they are doing."
There had been donated timber for skirtings and close to $1000 worth of paint from various sources, floors were being sanded for free, and many others had offered everything from their old vinyl, to various building materials, to landscaping work.
"There's too many people to mention them all and I don't want to miss one out," he said.
There had also been offers of money to pay for some materials that had not been donated and to give the Hoopers a retirement present.
The couple had spent close to $40,000 getting the house de-contaminated before Mr Harding came along.
"They're very emotional about the response from everyone. They certainly didn't expect it to become this big; I know I didn't expect it to take off like it has."
Because of all the help Mr Harding said they could not only make the house liveable but give the Hoopers a house to enjoy their retirement in.
"There's someone who wants to make them a vege garden, do a bit of landscaping and concrete a block for their campervan.
"With all the paint we've got we can paint the whole interior but we can probably do outside and their fences and everything as well."
While his baby was teething on Friday night, Mr Harding set up a Facebook page called "Help the Hoopers", which was the place to go if people had anything to offer, he said. A bank account was being created for donations and would be posted on the page, he said.
The offers to help Mr Harding start a business repairing meth homes had come in too, but he said he would wait until the house was finished before he thought about too much else.
Housing Minister Nick Smith yesterday weighed in on the debate around meth houses and what should be done about the perceived increase in issues with them.
He said he sympathised with the Hoopers but the scale of the problem did not justify imposing an expensive test for meth contamination on property owners.
"It is certainly an issue, but it would be misleading to suggest it's approaching the same level as the $20 billion leaky homes problem."
Police estimated that about 50 homes each year were found to be contaminated by meth, Dr Smith said.
He said he had been contacted by landlords who faced clean-up bills of tens of thousands of dollars after tenants had set up P labs.
Many were left out of pocket, but in one case a landlord was able to claim $30,000 through the courts, after a drug dealer's assets were seized under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act.
Overall the best solution remained the targeting of P makers and dealers, Dr Smith said.
"And that's why we've poured resources into this area."
Signs of a meth lab may include:
Unusual chemical smells.
Numerous chemical containers stored or stock piled.
Stained glass equipment and cookware.
Numerous cold tablet packages lying around or in the rubbish.
Portable gas tanks or other cylinders not normally used in the area.
Chemical stains around household kitchen sink, laundry, toilet or stormwater drains.
Yellow/brown staining of interior floor, wall or ceiling and surfaces.
Unusual activity, especially at night.
Source: Auckland Regional Public Health Service