Struggle to stay warm in quake-hit homes

6:53 pm on 27 July 2011

The severe winter cold snap has exacerbated already difficult living conditions for thousands of people in quake-damaged eastern suburbs of Christchurch.

The heavy snowfall on Monday, which turned to ice, is reported to be Canterbury's worst in almost a century.

Residents in the worst quake-hit areas are still relying on portaloos and living in damaged homes that are almost impossible to heat.

Bexley resident Sue Holmes says she's got the heaters going but spends most of the day in bed trying to stay warm.

"It's just hard to keep warm because you've got gaps in windows, windows you can't shut, doors you can't shut any more even with bungy cords and big gaps under walls that just don't meet the ground any more."

Ms Holmes says her husband is shovelling snow across the road as they fear once it melts it will flood their home, which sank below road level after the earthquake.


Fran Cook, a manager at Nurse Maud, which provides in-home support, says many people are demoralised and wondering what is coming next.

"What we're seeing is that people who have really struggled over the last few months and the events of the last few days have probably been the straw that has broken the camel's back."

Ms Cook says the weight of the snow on awnings and roofs has caused further damage to people's homes.

She says many elderly people can't afford to pay their electricity bill, so aren't using heaters, which is a huge risk to their health. Ms Cook is encouraging anyone who is suffering to ask for help.

The Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority helpline is available if people are trouble in the snowy conditions. The number is 0800 779997 and is available 24 hours a day.

The Salvation Army says some Christchurch families are in desperate need of hot water bottles, blankets, heaters and warm clothing.

Major Robbie Ross says the best way the public can help is to make a donation so his organisation can buy products in Christchurch to pass on to families and help the local economy at the same time.