No looking back for quake refugees

19:00, Feb 21 2013
carl and katrina black
HAPPY NOW: Carl and Katrina Black moved to Timaru with their two children after things in post-quake Christchurch became too much.

A Christchurch business owner has made a new start in Timaru after escaping the aftermath of the February 22 earthquake and says he has never looked back.

Carl Black and his wife, Katrina, owned a bakery in Christchurch that was damaged in the September 4, 2010, shake. Although the building remained standing, the couple decided to sell it rather than let their staff work in what they felt was a potentially dangerous situation.

Katrina went back to work and Carl stayed with the two children, Danielle, now 6, and Oliver, now 3.

On February 22, while Carl was at home with the kids at a creche down the road, the quake hit. He immediately went to collect his children.

Katrina was at work not far from the central business district. As she rushed to the carpark she saw terrified crowds screaming and running away from the city.

Katrina and Danielle developed post-traumatic stress syndrome, with Katrina having regular anxiety attacks.

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In May, the couple had had enough and moved to Timaru, enrolling Danielle in Bluestone School. After getting back on track financially, which they said was a long and arduous process, they purchased the Le Cren Takeaways.

Shortly after that they bought the Highfield Village Cafe.

"We love it," Carl said.

"We wanted to stay in hospitality but obviously there's not so many businesses in Timaru. We felt very fortunate when the Highfield Village Cafe came up for sale."

Nearly two years later they say moving to Timaru was the best decision they could have made. "I can't see us going back to Christchurch, full stop. Our kids are settled here.

"As far as we're concerned Timaru outweighs it 10 to one."

The couple have found there is a huge amount for their children to do in the city.

"There's always something going on and something to take them to," Katrina said.

"The kids (who suffer allergies) are healthier, for some reason. They are far better than they've ever been."

The Timaru Herald