Quake-hit residents forget it's Christmas

By Jarrod Booker

Vanessa Tappenden says the best result for her street would be if the sections were deemed unfit to live on. Photo / Supplied
Vanessa Tappenden says the best result for her street would be if the sections were deemed unfit to live on. Photo / Supplied

Vanessa Tappenden looks down her sinkhole-ridden cul-de-sac in Christchurch and asks: "What Christmas?"

For earthquake-hit homeowners like her, there has not been much festive cheer.

While many New Zealanders were yesterday relaxing at the beach or recovering from over-indulging on Christmas Day, Mrs Tappenden and her neighbours were clearing silt from Monterey Place in the northern suburb of Parklands.

The results of liquefaction from Friday's series of large quakes hit the cul-de-sac hard, as it did in the previous big quakes.

"It's funny - I don't even think of it as Christmas. It's kind of bizarre, surreal," Mrs Tappenden told the Herald.

Amy Gardener, who lives with her mother and siblings in Monterey Place, came home after Friday's quakes to find water and sludge had come up through cracks in the floor and into parts of their home.

Even the killer February quake did not cause this sort of damage.

"It's just seeped into the house like a sieve," she said.

"It's a suspected sinkhole under the house and we haven't got a clue why it came through. All the carpets are stinking wet. It stinks as well."

Dried silt is piled thick in the garage and on the section. Ms Gardener and others living in the house, including three young children, have been confined to one room of the house because of the liquefaction.

The house is now slowly collapsing.

"I didn't know it was Christmas this weekend. I keep forgetting. It's been pretty crap actually," Ms Gardener said.

Authorities have deemed the Monterey Place land suitable for houses to be rebuilt on - leaving homeowners ineligible for government buyouts.

"It's just a joke. The whole street floods, people's houses get taken out. It's just like Russian roulette when you get one of these [earthquakes]," Mrs Tappenden said.

"The best thing we could get for Christmas is to be told we don't have to rebuild on this land. It could be a really good thing."

Up the street, Mike, who asked his surname not be published, was yesterday shovelling thick silt from outside his home, where a large sinkhole had opened up for the third time.

"Every time [the earthquakes] happen, the ground falls even more. The house is already beyond repair apparently. I think everyone has just had enough. But what can you do?"

He said he was encouraged by the fact that strangers had been turning up to help shift silt from the street.

Gary Foot was yesterday using a digger to help clear silt from his daughter's Parklands home.

"For the people in Canterbury now, [Boxing Day] is just another day for us. And it certainly brings out the best in people. I had the guy come from across the road, and he saw what we were doing, and he helped out and he brought a couple of beers over."

- NZ Herald

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