Couple learning to live with the shakes

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 15:25 20/08/2013
Robyn Dawson
Germari Herselman

Robyn Dawson and Ash Hamilton, are still feeling shakes

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A Blind River couple who live near the epicentre of the Marlborough quakes are determined to stay put, despite the constant shaking.

While people in Blenheim may feel as though the shakes have quietened down since the weekend, Ward and Seddon residents, including Robyn Dawson and Ash Hamilton, are still feeling shakes "at least every hour".

"It keeps you on edge, it's difficult to sleep at night and when you finally drop off, you get woken by the next shake," Mrs Dawson said.

The couple, who live in Caseys Rd, near Seddon, have faced two major mop-ups following the magnitude 6.5 quake on July 19, and the 6.6 quake on Friday.

Last month's quake burst their water cylinder and shunted their coal-range stove and kitchen joinery off balance. Friday's quake trashed their kitchen again, plus blew out windows and shook loose the Oamaru stone block cladding on their home.

Although the constant aftershocks were straining their nerves, and making it difficult to adjust, they were not going anywhere, said Mr Hamilton, who manages the 170-hectare property they live on.

"It doesn't matter where you live in New Zealand, it is going to happen at some point," he said.

The couple have developed some tricks for making living in their quake-prone home easier to bear.

Mrs Dawson has looped rubber bands around her kitchen cupboard handles to prevent them popping open and emptying their shelves in the shakes.

Mr Hamilton drilled holes in the kitchen floor to drain water from the burst hot-water cylinder, and has welded brackets to their coal range stove and screwed it securely to the floor to prevent it moving.

An exterior drain pipe, which shook loose in Friday's quake, has been redirected to a bucket to collect rainwater to flush their toilet, because they have been without water for four days.

Mrs Dawson said although the shakes had largely subsided for now, people were still struggling to find a sense of normality.

While the township of Seddon was close-knit and kept a close eye on each other, people living in rural areas could feel isolated, she said. "I'm concerned about elderly people or families with young children who might feel isolated and alone during this time."

She urged neighbours, families and friends to call in, phone or text elderly people or families living in the rural Seddon area. "Just talking about it helps a lot."

Vicky Carson and Rob Kirkham, who are manning the Awatere Community Information Office, were swamped yesterday.

"A lot of people are really stressed with the constant rolling and the big shocks," Mrs Carson said. "We're here to provide information and support, but also we're here just to listen - often people just need to know they are not alone."

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