Answers at last for feisty widow

'Someone is finally listening to me'

GLENN CONWAY
Last updated 05:00 01/03/2014

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Dot Boyd is 85, stoic and staunch.

But three years after the earthquakes badly damaged the house she helped build, she fears she won't see it fixed before she dies.

Late yesterday, the Government admitted it had "dropped the ball", and that the Aranui woman can expect to receive money from EQC for the repair of her home by Monday.

But that was only after the sprightly Boyd, with anger and frustration in her voice, spoke to Labour MPs, including leader David Cunliffe, in her living room yesterday.

Her voice wavered at times and tears welled up in her eyes as she told her story. Hours later, a spokesman for Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and Fletchers had "dropped the ball" on Boyd's case, which was "obviously very disappointing".

"Both [EQC and Fletchers] had promised to fix the situation up as a priority."

Boyd will pocket her capped payment on Monday. She was thrilled "someone is finally listening to me".

"That's absolutely wonderful. I just want to live in my house. I haven't got many more years and I want to spend them living in my house."

Boyd said finding the courage to speak up "when there are hundreds and hundreds just like me" took some time but she soon had the politicians captivated as she spoke about how she and her late husband built the house, what damage was inflicted on it and how she cannot bear to think of another cold winter ahead.

"This is my fourth winter coming up and I can't go through another one," she said.

The house is unstable and draughty. Boards still block some of the cold air and Boyd's heat pump provides a temporary reprieve from the cold but the heat soon seeps out through the gaps.

She had endured "endless conversations" with insurers and EQC and has been promised everything from a total rebuild to being overcapped. A request in February 2013, asking her to move out while repairs were done, came and went with no action.

"I feel like I'm squatting in my own house. I've had enough. I'm packed and ready to leave, no-one seems to care," she said.

The only certainty she had was that her driveways and fences would be fixed. No-one was willing or able to talk about the house, Boyd said.

"It just goes on and on and on. It's very stressful."

When asked what she would say if she could talk directly to an insurance or EQC manager, her response was typically direct.

"I think I might explode. I have been pushed from pillar to post. I just want an answer."

Cunliffe said he was angry and sympathetic towards Boyd's plight.

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"I have a mother about Dot's age and I would hate to see her in a situation like this."

Insurers and EQC had failed when they could not swiftly process claims that affected the older population, he said.

State spokeswoman Renee Walker said the damage to Boyd's home had been assessed as under the EQC cap of $100,000 and would be managed by Fletchers. A claim for her paths, driveways and fences had been received.

"We assessed the damage [to driveways, fences and paths] last year and gave Dot the option of cash settling or having the reinstatement work done. She has opted to have the work carried out once her home has been repaired, which she indicated would be early this year."

"Due to her age, Dot is a priority customer for State and her repair work will be done as soon as she is ready for this to happen."

- The Press

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