EQC moves to help badly affected quake victims
The Earthquake Commission has recognised the plight of a Ward couple with three children living in a house with a broken roof since the August 16 quake centred at Grassmere.
More than five weeks after the quake damaged a third of the tile roof of the home, the EQC contacted Candi Callaghan to set a time assessors could visit. This was the same day the Marlborough Express ran an article saying the family was living under leaky tarpaulins.
"I didn't want to jump the queue but water was coming in," Miss Callaghan said.
The family is now using their fifth and sixth loaned tarpaulins after the first four were torn by wind and let rain inside.
Cook Strait event manager Paul Walsh told Miss Callaghan the EQC had not been as proactive as it should have been given the severity of her family's situation. This was part of a learning curve for the commission towards helping the most vulnerable quake victims first.
Mr Walsh said he wanted to hear about "real urgent claims, real damage and real people issues", at a meeting for quake victims in Seddon last month.
Miss Callaghan said she could not have been more impressed with the EQC team which visited. Not only did they discover cracks in the house which her partner Hayden Shadbolt had missed but they also answered her long list of questions and explained how the claims system worked.
Since then, several firms had visited and were costing up the alternatives of replacing the tiles or rebuilding in iron.
However, Miss Callaghan had no idea when the cheque covering damage would come in.
"It might be next week; it might be next year," she said.
Also, any water damage after the EQC inspection would not be covered, she was told. It was hard to keep the roof watertight in the Ward climate where any rain almost always came with wind.
Grassmere residents Humphrey and Lorraine Askin who have been living rough since the quake have also had good news.
An EQC engineer has told the couple that fixing their dream house would be expensive but feasible.
Last month the Express found the Askins living in a basic cottage on their property, wondering whether their badly damaged home could be rebuilt and why there had been no word from the EQC.
An EQC engineer who visited after the article ran said fixing their off-grid home would cost more than $100,000 which was the maximum the EQC would pay. He would return soon with an assessor from their insurance company to look at options.
Mrs Aston said it was a relief to hear their home should be worth fixing.
However, they hoped it would not take too long to get a payout, which the EQC said could take about four months.
A spokesman for the EQC said they preferred to deal directly with customers rather than comment through the media.
- The Marlborough Express