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For Andrew Palmer, news that his Kaiapoi supermarket cannot reopen is even more devastating than the earthquake that damaged it so badly.
Mr Palmer and his wife, Jacqui, have owned the New World supermarket for eight years. The couple were excited about a major refit that was close to being completed.
But Saturday's 7.1-magnitude earthquake caused such severe damage it will have to close and be rebuilt, meaning 85 job losses.
Mr Palmer was overseas at the weekend when the earthquake hit so didn't know what to expect. He returned "as quickly as I could".
Initial hopes that a rebuild wouldn't be needed faded when engineers confirmed the damage was too severe.
A $6 million refit was only 12 weeks away from being finished, he said. But he promised to get it back up and running as quickly as possible. "We are committed to rebuild."
On Wednesday, staff were given the grim news that there would be no jobs to go back to.
Yesterday, as Mr Palmer and others donned hard hats and began moving stock, Foodstuffs announced a package to help the 85 staff, 34 of whom are permanent workers.
The company is working with the Palmers' insurer and will offer each employee access to a business adviser from a local firm to help them look for work.
Foodstuffs South Island says it will find positions for the employees in other supermarkets if they want to continue working for the company.
The Foodstuffs Community Trust gave each permanent staff member a $500 shopping voucher. Part-timers got vouchers for $250.
Chief executive Steve Anderson said a rebuild would take at least a year.
A staff member, who asked not to be named, said she was gutted. "This is more than just a job, I love it here."
She hoped to get back into a routine after the disruption caused by the earthquake.
The New World closure leaves just one supermarket in Kaiapoi.
Resident Teresa O'Donnell said she visited the Palmers' New World at least once a week. The loss of it was just another blow to a town that was already suffering.
"The staff there are really lovely and [the refit] was so close to being finished. I can't believe it has to be pulled down," she said.
Shopper Debbie Jones didn't know anyone who worked there but recognised their faces. She said it was nice to shop somewhere and see familiar, friendly faces.
Seventy-year-old Curly Croucher used to live where the supermarket now stands. Yesterday, he stood sadly outside its car park, which was fenced off from the public, and watched workmen taking down the scaffolding that had been used for the refit.
Mr Croucher said the Palmers were good people who did a lot for the community. "They're very generous ... If someone is running a raffle, they always say it can sit in the shop. It's fantastic."
He said the closure would affect the whole town, in particular elderly people who didn't drive and would now need to go to the Countdown at the other end of Kaiapoi.
"For someone who is born and bred here, this is very sad to see."