'Tired of waiting' - Paulette's plea to the PM

Last updated 05:00 08/08/2014
Paulette Barr
'HELP ME, JOHN': A tearful Paulette Barr confronted Prime Minister John Key at Westfield Mall in Riccarton yesterday, pleading for help in a cold, liquefaction-hammered home.
Paulette Barr
Iain McGregor
LIFE IN LIMBO: Paulette Barr pleads with Prime Minister John Key at Riccarton Mall yesterday to help speed up earthquake repairs on her Richmond home.

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Paulette Barr could see no end to wearing coats and beanies inside her cold, quake-damaged home, so she took her case to Prime Minister John Key.

Worn down by 3 years of insurance claim limbo with her ruined Richmond home, Barr confronted Key at Riccarton Mall yesterday.

She demanded answers about repairs to her property.

"I was just saying, 'Look, what can you do for us, it's three years. We had liquefaction come right through our house.

"They had to remove the skirting boards because the liquefaction had gone in and contaminated the place," the 61-year-old said.

Barr and her house-mate, Maureen Doherty, 74, said they had put their lives on hold since February 2011 as they waited for an over-cap EQC and NZI private insurance claim to progress on their Hills Rd property.

They want to know when and how their home in an over-60s housing complex will be repaired.

"We can't plan to do anything else at the moment, because we are on hold. We don't know if we are going to get a call next week saying: we are going to do something, pack up your stuff. You just get tired of waiting," Barr said.

After a 10-month stint away from the property following the February earthquake, the pair returned after ripping up liquefaction-ruined carpets and decontaminating the place.

Newspaper is used to plug the gaps around external doors, mats cover the cracked floor and the house is 92 millimetres off level.

Ice often forms inside and they are enduring another winter wrapped in layers of clothing and beanies.

The stress has at times been overwhelming - and detrimental to Barr's health as she battles with the side-effects from cancer treatment in 2005.

They believe living in a four-flat complex on TC3 land had resulted in "being put in the too-hard basket".

Barr had no intention to plead with Key but felt there was nowhere else to go.

"He looked at me all concerned and I started talking. He asked where I lived and I told him, and he said he was meeting with them (EQC) this afternoon and he will find out what's happening.

"It's still hard for a lot of people in Christchurch and I was thinking of the others who might not have the opportunity to speak to the prime minister."

Key said insurance companies were making good progress and Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee was in regular contact with insurers.

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"We would absolutely acknowledge that there's certainly some Cantabrians that are still struggling to deal with those issues and through their insurance companies, through no fault of their own, have very complex issues."

Barr said a few hours after the encounter, the body corporate controlling the flat complex called to confirm EQC had passed on her claim to NZI.

EQC customer and claims general manager Gail Kettle said administrative work to finalise the payment was complete, and it yesterday contacted the body corporate to confirm bank account details and ensure payment was handled quickly to get repairs under way.

NZI spokeswoman Renee Walker said an EQC multi-unit building team visited the flat complex in October and on July 11 confirmed it was an over-cap claim.

"We are working with the owners' broker and body corporate to determine how all four unit owners would like to proceed.

"Once agreement is reached, we will appoint a loss adjuster to work with Ms Barr."

- The Press


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