Gillian Rayner and her father Harry Stanton
On the morning of September 4th 2010 there was a sudden jolt, the noise was loud and then the house shook. I leapt out of bed and went to my 90 year old dad’s bedroom, he was also wide awake. We stood in the hallway, neither of us thought of getting into a doorway or under a table. It was pitch black. Opening the door to step outside I went into six inches of thick slush. I looked with the torch and the drive was a river of dirty foamy water. It was a good job our house had high foundations.
Daylight arrived and the neighbours met in the road to make sure we were all okay. No power, water or phone. The sewer pipes were ruptured. The worst was not being able to contact family. That night we stayed with friends who lived near Rangiora, from here I could make contact with my brother in Marlborough and we arranged for Dad to go there. I returned home each day to clean up with my son Geoff and two teams of PD guys who were terrific.
During this time the Civil Defence provided water, food parcels, advice and hot meals. By Christmas Dd was home and on February 22nd 2011 it started all over again. Help to clear the property came by way of students this time. My wheelbarrow went with them round the area, returning home four weeks later.
On June 13th I was standing outside with a guy from Fletcher Construction when there was a roar and then the ground just took off along with our cars. We watched the house go berserk. Sadly it was time to move out. We were fortunate to get a lovely home to rent and moved in at the end of June.
I’d already had a meeting with my insurers after being paid out by EQC with regard to a rebuild, then the government Red Zoned our whole area. This was devastating; to lose my home of 30 years was bad enough, but then to learn I would also lose my section and lovely garden. I shed a lot of quiet tears.
Over the next couple of months I went back to my home and dug up my garden, split and potted plants, small shrubs, roses, fuchsias and garden structures. Everything that could be moved was taken out, over 200 pots and large bags.
When I bought the place I am in now there was no garden to speak of and the plants that came with me are all doing well in their new ‘beds’. I didn’t see my old house come down but I still go and look at my section and the trees that were spared.
My Journey was one I would not like to repeat, however, I was fortunate to have wonderful family and friends and a great neighbour to help me.Dad is still with me, he will be 94 this month and he prefers not to remember. My sister and her husband are among those still waiting – repair or rebuild? My heart goes out to those who are struggling to get their lives back on track.