Temporary refuge becomes permanent home

18:48, Feb 21 2013
Timaru family
RECOVERY: Jo Mitchell and her kids Jay and Jasmine in front of the first EQC rebuild in Timaru.

Two years after their house collapsed around them, the Mitchell family have relocated their lives to Timaru.

The family's move meant they had the first complete home re-build in Timaru paid for by the earthquake commission last year.

Timaru-born Jo Mitchell vividly remembers February 22, 2011. She was at home with her then 6-month-old daughter Jasmine and 2-year-old son Jay while her husband Craig was at work.

"We had come home from Mainly Music and I had put the kids down for a sleep.

"I was sitting down to have my lunch and the house just started to shake to pieces."

She ran to the children's rooms and grabbed them and took them to where the family had worked out was the safest part of the house following the September quake, which destroyed the rental property they owned in the same street.


"We just camped there. I was trying to keep the kids calm and find my courage to see what damage had been done. The whole west end of the house had collapsed."

It took her husband 2 hours to hitchhike and run from the airport where he was working to their Burwood home.

"When he got home I packed suitcases and we came down to my parents in Timaru. It took two hours to get out of Christchurch."

The insurance company determined they could live in half of their house, so after six weeks they returned to Christchurch.

"We made the decision to go back. Then the June earthquakes hit and wrote the rest of the house off.

"Christchurch was just so damaged by then and to be honest I was too scared to stay. We decided if Craig could get a job here [in Timaru] we would come back, and he did.

"We thought we would be here a year max, thinking by then we would have sorted the insurance out, not knowing the massive battles with insurance ahead of us."

Finally she managed to get an agreement for a full rebuild on the rental property after nearly 18 months' negotiation with their insurance company.

"Two years on we have rebuilt the rental [in Mountainview Rd] and have replaced the Christchurch home with a similar-sized home [in Pages Rd].

"We have since put the rental on the market and I got a new job in September."

The Timaru Herald