Couple tell of quake misery

A NEW Zealand couple who came to Lurgan to trace their family tree have told of the devastation caused by the earthquakes in Christchurch.

Natalie and Bob Wetherall were staying with Lurgan man Sammy Malcolm last week while at the same time keeping in close contact with their daughter Merryn whose house has been destroyed by the latest earthquakes in Christchurch.

Natalie said: “The whole sub division where our daughter Merryn lives is going to be demolished. They’re still living in their house in the meantime if you could call it living.

“They’ve been offered a new job so they’ll be shifted on and the government have said they will buy the land where the houses were.”

Their daughter Merryn is married to Clinton and is due to give birth in October. Their other daughter Tiffany also lives in Christchurch.

“It’s not just our daughters we’re worried about, it’s all our friends as well. Bob grew up in that subdivision. We know lots of people there. Some are still in their houses, others are abandoned. It’s very sad.”

Bob said: “The problem is liquifaction. Fluid comes up through the ground like a volcano. It’s quite warm when it comes up. Anything at ground level is destroyed.”

Natalie and Bob live in a place called Rangoira, 40 kilometres north of Christchurch. The population has doubled in the past few months, with people moving out of Christchurch.

Since February, 50,000 residents have relocated elsewhere in New Zealand and Australia.

Natalie said: “We’re still getting aftershocks. There’s been 7,000 aftershocks since the last earthquake. There were 20 measured in a 24 hours period. It’s a terrible way to live. You don’t know whether you’re getting an aftershock or another earthquake. They’re both capable of major destruction.”

Natalie added: “We haven’t been into the city since September. The CBD is all closed off. A 27 storey hotel leaning there that will take out other buildings if it falls.

“26 Anglicans churches have to come down. The Catholic Cathedral is nearly ruined altogether. It will have to come down.

“No one will use multi-storey car parks. We live every day thinking is there going to be another one. We really can’t take any more. It’s awful.

Christchurch was meant to be one of the locations for the forthcoming Rugby World Cup.

Bob said: “They’ve had to switch it. We’ve got no hotels, the stadiums have taken a lot of damage as well. The mood in Christchurch is pretty despondent.”