Christchurch earthquake: No water, no toilet and worst, no information

By Jarrod Booker

Stephen Wall is house-sitting his stressed mother's home in Sopley Lane, Bexley. Photo / David Alexander
Stephen Wall is house-sitting his stressed mother's home in Sopley Lane, Bexley. Photo / David Alexander

A month on from the devastating Christchurch earthquake, Stephen Wall is still living without water or a working toilet at his mother's quake-damaged home.

Mr Wall, 52, came from Southland two weeks ago to look after the house in the quake-ravaged suburb of Bexley so his stressed mother, Rita, 76, could take a desperately needed break.

The electricity came on only a couple of days ago, and there is still no running water.

He travels on ruptured, silt-covered streets to the nearby suburb of New Brighton to collect water in containers and to have a shower. Toilet trips mean a Portaloo on the street.

"One thing that's quite frustrating is that you don't get any information," Mr Wall told the Herald.

"They just say that they are working on the problem. It's just very slow. I know they have got a massive task on their hands, but a little more information would go down good."

Civil Defence national controller John Hamilton said a lot had been achieved in the month since the quake, but he acknowledged there was still "significant distress" for affected residents.

"Our starting point was 'ground zero'. One month after the quake, thousands of staff have worked around the clock to lift the city to a state where basic services are being stabilised," Mr Hamilton said.

"Most residents have adequate accommodation, traffic flows are improving and most have reliable access to potable water, sewerage and rubbish disposal, electricity and telecommunications. We are working night and day to return the city to as close to normal as possible."

Mr Wall's mother's home has moved on its foundations and it has been assessed as having $100,000 worth of damage.

His mother's whole life was at the house, Mr Wall said.

"We are just waiting to find out what they are going to do about it. Most of the word is that they are probably going to condemn the whole area, but we don't know that for sure."

A few houses away, Carol Hall, 78, has had electricity for about a week. Water has been back on for a few days. She is using a chemical toilet she was given recently.

"You get used to it. You just get into the groove. My toes are stuck in here. I'm a true blue Kiwi. I don't run away from anything."

Like Mr Wall, she desperately wants more information.

"I've been waiting since last September for [the assessor] to come back a second time.

"You can't blame them, they are doing their best."

- NZ Herald

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