Why are we waiting?
Quake victims with badly broken homes are still waiting for a visit from the Earthquake Commission despite their plight being highlighted at a meeting in Ward last week.
Candi Callaghan is bringing up three young children in a house with a third of its roof damaged and covered with tarpaulins.
At a meeting in the Ward hall last week EQC customer services general manager Bruce Emson pledged help including a vulnerable response phoneline and gave people at the meeting his email address. This was after being given a clear message from the community that the worst affected should be helped first and this was not happening.
Miss Callaghan and her partner Hayden Shadbolt are doing their best to keep life normal for their three children in the badly damaged old Ward Post Office, where they have lived for 10 years.
Quakes jolted all the seams in the roof, breaking mortar and sending tiles sliding to the ground, Ms Callaghan said. Canvas covers weatherproof about a third of the roof but frequently rip in the wind.
"We can hear drip, drip, drip," Ms Callaghan said. "Every two days we have to recheck and retighten."
A Salvation Army crew had helped put up new covers and a pile donated by farmers sits outside, ready to replace any that were damaged.
"I've rung the 0800DAMAGE number and been told to hold tight and someone will get to you," Ms Callaghan said. "If others hadn't said something at the meeting last week, I would have just sat and waited because I didn't know what else to do."
The family could not afford to replace the roof themselves so had to wait for the EQC, Ms Callaghan said.
Humphrey and Lorraine Askin have been living in spartan conditions since quakes tore apart their off-grid new dream home overlooking Lake Grassmere south of Seddon.
An EQC assessor took the Askins' details at the Ward meeting but they have heard nothing since. "I don't mind it's taking them a while but it would be nice if someone contacted us," Mr Askin said.
Their six-year-old home was built to withstand gale-force winds but now shook in every gust, Mr Askin said. Every downstairs wall in the house is ripped and one has jumped off its foundation. A ceiling is torn and deep cracks run up the stairwell.
The Askins decided to stay out of their home until it was inspected by the EQC. Meanwhile, they are living in a basic house which they shifted to their property with plans to renovate. A generator provides electricity in the evenings and food is cooked and water is heated using gas.
The August 16 quake centred at Grassmere and following aftershock wrenched a heavy coal range from its mounts, popping its door off its hinges and throwing it across the wall, Mrs Askin said. A radiator burst and sprayed water across the room, an organ tipped over and slid across the floor and eggs in the fridge were smashed.
She dived under the kitchen table and was so frightened she refused to come out when her husband came home from Blenheim.
The couple say despite EQC inaction, they have been overwhelmed with the Marlborough District Council and Awatere Community Information Centre's efficiency and helpfulness following the quakes.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Earthquake Commission says:
9317 claims were made after the Cook Strait earthquakes, including the 6.6-magnitude quake centred at Grassmere near Ward on August 16.
470 claims are from the Ward, Seddon and Awatere areas, where damage was most severe.
230 of these claimants have been visited by the EQC but some of the claims remain open because more information is needed.
153 claims have been assigned to assessment teams and appointments will be booked.
87 claims files are set to be made up and sent to the Seddon field office.
- The Marlborough Express