Cantabrians 'feel like a nuisance'

Last updated 05:00 05/09/2014
Linda Harris
Joseph Johnson/Fairfax NZ

LINDA HARRIS: "It's really hard to get excited about a new Christchurch when all I feel is loss still."

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It's really hard to get excited about a new Christchurch when all I feel is loss still.

Today marks four years. Our lives have stood still or remained in limbo since then.

We are still waiting for our house to be repaired. We have had many scopes and engineers' reports and hundreds of conversations with insurance, EQC, MO offices, earthquake support people etc.

I have suffered bouts of depression, ill-health due to dampness and mould and watched my most vlnerable children do the same.

We are an expediated claim! Why? Because we have a daughter with mild hemiplegia and the potential to get very ill.

I used to be obsessed with a clean tidy home. I have given up now. My furniture has water stains and the dust layers just form the moment I finish dusting. It is draughty, earthquake damaged, and it is getting shabby.

Four years go today, I had been walking round the house until 4am, so tired but couldn't sleep. I must have had a sixth sense that something was going to happen.

When it struck, I dragged my sleeping nine-year-old into a door frame and then tried to get to my sleeping premmie babies but was thrown from side to side and felt powerless to save my children. My husband was in England.

When the shaking stopped I finally reached my screaming babies and scooped one in each arm and again felt useless because I didn't have a spare arm to hold my hysterical nine-year-old who had now woken and was screaming "what is it mummy what is it mummy?"

I told her to hold the back of my pyjamas, as my flight response took over and I had to escape my house which I was sure was going to fall down the hill.

We made our way down the stairs and through the wet floors and carpet - the waves from the pool washed through the house dodging glass and fallen objects.

I stood on our driveway in bare feet holding my children and calling out if anyone was there. It was deadly silent. I started to panic - were we the only survivors?

I was sobbing now and sooo cold in the frosty morning and I screamed "please can anyone help me!" Why did I say that because I wasn't bleeding or really hurt just a bit battered and bruised from the walls and door hitting me.

Then a voice that I didn't even know called out to me and I turned to see a flashlight climb up the driveway.

It was my new neighbor who I hadn't even met yet.

I was sobbing and he said "Here can I take one of the babies for you?" I was so grateful - I didn't want to let Louie go either but I was finally able to hold my darling Sophie who was so distraught.

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We joined neighbours in another house and clustered together to listen to the radio. I went into shock and couldn't warm up and barely felt able to feed the twins. Four years ago today my life went on hold. It's still on pause.

It's four years today and most of New Zealand are sick of hearing about us. Most Cantabrians just want to move on, they are fixed and want to move on.

But for some of us it is four years and we are still not along any further. We are feeling low and forgotten and like a nuisance.

I miss my life before September 4, 2010. I miss my life, my city, my home and I miss the feeling that Christchurch was my "safe place".

I feel lost now, nowhere is safe?

I woke up ths morning at 4.45am and instantly thought of the earthquakes, I hadn't even realised the anniversary was here. Weird. Just like four years ago when I couldn't sleep.

Happy anniversary.

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