Home loss hits farming family hard
The Hickman family of Taimate, near Ward, holds the doubtful distinction of having the first quake-damaged house in Marlborough "red stickered".
Kieran Hickman said Marlborough District Council building inspectors deemed the family's double-brick farmhouse at Springdale Farm unsafe to enter after the July 19 quake.
Life had been tough since their home was given its "building code 124" classification and cordoned off with plastic tape, he said.
This was the busiest time of year with lambing full-tilt and it was not easy to deal with his family's distress and making claims to the EQC and insurance company on top.
Mr Hickman has been spending most nights at a "man pad" beside his ruined home but his wife, Michelle, had not been able to face returning to the farm with their three children, aged from 9 months to 4 years. The family was looking forward to being back under one roof at a rented house in Ward paid for by insurance, Mr Hickman said.
When the July quake struck, 3-year-old Louis was in the bath. A manhole cover dropped from the ceiling and landed on baby Harriet in her mother's arms, as she ran to rescue Louis.
Bricks crashed to the floor as walls collapsed and the family rushed outdoors.
What hurt was that they had loved this home and devoted many hours to enhancing its timber floors, painting walls and land scaping, Mr Hickman said. Little remained of that effort and even the vegetable garden had burst out of its railway sleeper surrounds.
State Insurance and EQC had been fantastic, Mr Hickman said.
As well as dealing efficiently with their claims, representatives rang after the Grassmere quake on Friday to check everyone was OK.
The silver lining at the end of this difficult time would hopefully be a new home, Mr Hickman said. However, he would not build on the same site considering that the London Hill and Lake Grassmere faults ran along the valley floor.
Other Hickman family homes in the area had also been damaged but were habitable, he said.
- The Marlborough Express