Four Corners: ' I blame Steph entirely for the Kaikoura earthquake'
The morning of the Kaikoura earthquake, Steph Thompson opened her Four Square store in a dressing gown. And that's how her customers arrived, too.
Nick and Steph Thompson have been the proud owners of Kaikoura Four Square for almost three years. Their shop is usually full of tourists at this time of year but this summer the focus is simply to look on the bright side of their recent experiences, and hope they are still there this time next year.
Tell us what happened with you during the night of November 14.
Nick: Actually I blame Steph entirely for the earthquake. She had been putting displays up around the shop and we had a lot of Coke specially delivered on the Saturday that she spent ages building a big tower with, obviously tempting fate.
How did Four Square get involved early on?
Knowing I owned the local Four Square, Civil Defence asked me to supply crucial food supplies through the night to locals and trapped tourists at the emergency centre and the Marae. In situations like this you pitch in to help and at least I was dressed for the occasion, unlike my wife who was still boldly attired in her dressing gown.
How did you manage to get your stock out with the damage to the property?
For the first day I was just stepping through the front window, which had been smashed out, across Steph's sea of Coke and mayonnaise...I imagine I was in violation of a few "Elf and Safety" rules for going through a shaking building, but imagine no-one having any food.
What was the most surreal part of it all?
Nick: It was early in the morning and I was sploshing through all the mayo, when suddenly there was an apparition – a guy was standing in front of me saying 'Do you happen to have any formula?' He had come in through the window. He came back later and paid for it which was really nice.
Steph: We also had to laugh at the chimney that would just not fall down – lots of effort by burly emergency services guys with sledgehammers and finally cutting tools – it took two days to get it demolished..
Nick: And seeing our customers in their randomly selected night attire, along with Steph in hers.
What were the most sought-after grocery items?
Cheese and chicken. People were so sick of sausages. There was mania over cheese and chicken as soon as we opened the store. And beer and cigarettes – it was almost like Prohibition. We had heaps of beer but no milk.
Where to from here?
We're part of the community and here to stay. I'm cautiously optimistic although we are facing a torrid 12 months. But it's all about how the money coming in is allocated – no free chocolate fountains on every street corner as I would wish, but far more useful, practical infrastructure that will stimulate the local economy and benefit everyone long-term. On the bright side the whales are still out there.
- Sunday Star Times