Paraplegic pleads for quake's 'forgotten victims'

By Jarrod Booker

Bev Edwards who was seriously injured during the Christchurch Earhtquake. Photo / Supplied
Bev Edwards who was seriously injured during the Christchurch Earhtquake. Photo / Supplied

Bev Edwards became a paraplegic - a "life sentence" - when a wall collapsed on her in the tragic February 22 earthquake. by Jarrod Booker

South Island correspondent Bev Edwards is coming to terms with the Christchurch earthquake stealing her ability to walk. What the wheelchair-bound paraplegic cannot accept is the "life sentence" it has handed her family.

The nurse and mother of three does not want to be seen as "moaning and groaning", but feels compelled to speak out for the quake's "forgotten victims".

"There's those that died, and those that lived, and there doesn't seem to be any in between. It's actually lumping us in with Joe Bloggs who's got [quake] damage to their house," Mrs Edwards, 54, told the Herald.

Mrs Edwards was eating her lunch at Christchurch's Tasty Tucker Bakery when the 6.3 magnitude quake struck on February 22 last year. The wall of an adjacent building collapsed through the bakery's roof and collapsed on to her.

She was flown to Wellington Hospital for treatment and spent days in an induced coma and required multiple operations for her many injuries, before months of rehabilitation.

It turned her family's life "upside down".

Her husband and daughters spent thousands of dollars and racked up debt in order to travel and be with her after the quake. They didn't meet the criteria for reimbursement at the time, Mrs Edwards said.

Her husband Tony, a self-employed builder, had to give up much of his income for several months to support his wife. He is now her unpaid carer, and when she's in extreme pain two nights out of three "he is the one who's got to watch me in tears".

Her family still has all the costs it always had, such as the mortgage, but now there are a host of new ones because of Mrs Edwards' condition, such as modifications for her wheelchair and surcharges for her ongoing medical treatment.

ACC covers most of the income she used to earn as a nurse and other partial payments, but it only goes so far.

"I feel that my family has a life sentence with me and deserve some support," Mrs Edwards wrote in a letter earlier this year to Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker.

"I believe there [are] education grants provided but because I did not pass away, my children do not fit these criteria, or any other criteria to give them a help for their expenses incurred."

The Red Cross has helped the 23 people most seriously injured in the quake with grants of $7500, followed by grants of between $12,000 and $14,000, and will be looking to see what else it can do.

It is also working on a project with agencies such as ACC, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) and the Canterbury District Health Board to see what barriers the injured are facing.

Aside from those paralysed in the quake such as Mrs Edwards, at least three people lost their legs as a result of injuries they suffered.

- NZ Herald

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