Red-zone couple rush to move

Cera 'hassle' after hard move exceeds deadline

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 02/07/2014
Robert and Isobel Snow
Stacy Squires/Fairfax NZ
ON THE MOVE: Robert and Isobel Snow, along with helpers, pack up the last of their belongings from their red-zoned Burwood home, a day after the settlement deadline.

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Relief at leaving their abandoned street has ended with more stress for a red-zone elderly couple.

Robert and Isobel Snow, both in their 70s, were yesterday rushing to pack up the last of their belongings, having failed to meet the deadline their lawyer agreed with the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) to vacate their Burwood home.

Isobel Snow said they felt pressured by Cera's approach.

Marked vehicles drove past the house without stopping multiple times on Monday and yesterday morning.

She said that in her last phone call to Cera last week, she was told financial penalties would be imposed if the property was not vacated by the settlement deadline.

Desperate to meet the agreed date, they pushed ahead with plans to move despite their new home in West Melton still being unfinished because of unforeseen construction delays.

The move itself took longer than expected - the couple shifted their own personal effects because they could not afford professional movers - and they gave up about 8pm Monday when exhaustion set in.

The Snows were grateful to helpers who heard about their plight and lent a hand yesterday.

"All I really needed was for [Cera] to understand our situation, and just give us a bit of breathing space."

The stress had prevented them "coming to terms" with leaving their home of 13 years, Isobel said.

"With all this hassling, it's an ignominious end to us living here."

The couple's home was among the later flat-land red-zonings, after which they endured a court case with their insurer and several weeks of delays on their new home. They had also lost their mail delivery, watched their neighbours leave and the area become a wasteland.

Cera boss Roger Sutton rang the Snows yesterday to apologise. Staff driving past the house was not intended to intimidate, he said.

"We want to make sure people actually have left property so we can pay them their money, and to make sure the house is locked up and secure so it doesn't get vandalised and we don't get squatters moving in.

"If cars went past more than once, I can understand them feeling upset and I've apologised for that."

Thousands of red-zone properties had been settled without incident and penalty-interest waivers were offered in many cases, Sutton said.

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