Two years on from Christchurch earthquake, affected families share stories on how Habitat for Humanity helped them piece their lives together
Bangkok, 22nd February 2013 – “It was a big job”, reflects Julie Jeffries, recalling the necessary repair work needed on her house after the multiple earthquakes in Christchurch two years ago. The 6.3-magnitude earthquake, and its many aftershocks, left the Jeffries’ house with no chimneys, cracked foundations and extensive damage throughout.
Julie, and her husband Dennis, had just stopped their housing insurance payments after 30 years to take advantage of a government subsidy enabling them to insulate their weatherboard house. With Dennis suffering from multiple sclerosis and unable to work, money was already tight when disaster struck.
“I was depressed. I didn’t realize how low I was. We found ourselves in a difficult situation, Habitat was there when we had no one to turn to,” says Julie. Referred to Habitat for Humanity’s ‘Rebuild Christchurch’ program, the Jeffries were assisted with volunteer labor, enabling them to rebuild their chimneys and replaster rooms.
Two years on from the disaster, Habitat for Humanity New Zealand has repaired 44 houses with the help of more than 200 volunteers. With funding secured to repair 50 homes, Habitat expects to complete the program by the end of April 2013.
Focus after the earthquake has been on those whose homes were totally destroyed or badly damaged, but even those without homes felt the impact. Hamish and Angela Pollard, together with their four children, found themselves priced out of New Zealand’s rental market as property prices surged due to the shortage of available homes. No longer willing to be a burden on friends, the Pollards were forced to live in a tent and caravan in a campground through a cold Christchurch winter.
Their situation was brought to the attention of Habitat for Humanity and, using donated materials and volunteer labor, a home was built for the Pollard family. “We were so used to being moved around, it took a while to believe it was ours”, said Angela.
Habitat for Humanity New Zealand has helped more 534 New Zealand families since it started in 1993, and well as 363 families elsewhere in the world.