Simon Collins

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Christchurch earthquake: Rest homes evacuated, others need food, water

An elderly couple take refuge and sleep in an evacuation centre, set up at Hagley Park. Photo / Sarah Ivey
An elderly couple take refuge and sleep in an evacuation centre, set up at Hagley Park. Photo / Sarah Ivey

More than 200 elderly patients have been evacuated from rest homes damaged in the Christchurch earthquake - some in such a rush that they were taken without shoes, glasses and other belongings.

Some were moved out on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights because of dangerous structural damage to buildings. About 30 from the Catholic Church's Nazareth House was bussed overnight to Stoke near Nelson, arriving yesterday morning.

Others were being moved out of another home last evening because of raw sewage flowing through the bottom of the building.

All homes contacted yesterday were struggling to cope without sewerage, collecting toilet waste in plastic bags. Many were also desperate for food and water.

Aged Care Association chief executive Martin Taylor, who toured the city yesterday, said some homes were also short of staff because some workers have fled the city.

"They clearly feel family is the priority," he said.

He said rest homes needed to get priority for bulk food and water supplies and collection of bagged toilet waste.

"It needs to be prioritised to take away because of the general breakdown of sanitary conditions," he said.

"They are coping quite well, but there needs to be an understanding that if we have no power, water or sewerage, that is actually quite finite, and when you put on top of that the lack of staff it's possible that there could be a round of people putting up their hands and saying we just can't continue."

Only one rest home patient is known to have died - a woman at Oceania Group's Windermere home in Papanui who broke her hip in a fall during the earthquake and died on Wednesday night in Christchurch Hospital.

The Christchurch Methodist Mission lost three staff who died in a church attached to the mission. The owner of a small rest home near Sumner is believed to have died in a rock slide at his home and his rest home has been evacuated.

Oceania chief executive Geoff Hipkins said 40 residents from the Woodchester home in Shirley were moved out on Tuesday night, some without glasses, shoes and walkers.

"We were not able to access people's personal belongings because we had to move them out urgently," he said. "There was significant structural damage. We had part of the roof collapse.

"Hopefully we'll be able to get back into the building today to access people's personals."

He said about 30 people were moved out of Windermere where only part of the building was condemned, with about 25 residents remaining.

The company bussed 46 of its own patients to Blenheim, Nelson and Stoke, as well as accepting the busload from Nazareth House. A home at Stoke which was mothballed 18 months ago, Omaio, has reopened with support from neighbouring facilities.

Other patients from Woodchester and Windermere were placed in Oceania's Addington rest home, Villa Gardens.

"We have put two people to a room there because the rooms in that facility are reasonably large," Mr Hipkins said.

Kate Sheppard Lifecare in New Brighton has been completely evacuated. Mr Taylor said there was "liquefaction through the whole place" and the buildings would need to be bulldozed.

Anglican Aged Care director Alison Jephson said residents from 28 apartments at the central city Bishops Park retirement village had been moved out, mostly to family and friends.

"Some have stayed in the rest home sleeping on chairs and mattresses," she said.

Radius Residential Care chief executive Brien Cree said 11 people had been evacuated from a wing of Radius St Ives near the Avon River, where liquefaction "has dragged part of the building towards the river". They have been moved to other Radius facilities.

Another home near the river, Avonview, lost its rest home in the first earthquake in September. Owner Grant Buchanan, who also lost his own house on Tuesday, says the 34 residents in a remaining two-storey building split into apartments have all been moved downstairs.

Bupa Care said on its website that 10 residents from its Parkwood rest home in Linwood had been moved to other Bupa homes because of major structural damage.

Ryman Healthcare chief executive Simon Challies said his four Christchurch retirement villages suffered some property damage but no residents had to move.

Canterbury District Health Board spokeswoman Vicky Heward said 108 rest home residents had been relocated outside Christchurch by yesterday.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said the air force had been asked to fly others to "facilities around the South Island" from last night or today.

South Canterbury District Health Board said it expected 21 evacuees to arrive by bus last night to go to rest homes in Timaru, Geraldine and Waimate.

Dunedin-based Southern District Health Board said 16 rest home patients had arrived in Dunedin and another 36 were "possibly on the way".

- NZ Herald

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