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Red zone retirees: Housing woes worse than quakes

Thursday 15 Nov 2012 10:00 a.m.



By Joe Brodie

More than two years on from the September 2010 quake, it's not aftershocks rattling the nerves of Christchurch residents, but insurance woes.

Ninety-year-old red zone resident Daisy Hollander, who lives alone, says the quakes themselves didn't bother her.  

"I was annoyed more than anything," says Ms Hollander. "I am pretty tough and I wasn’t terribly frightened by the earthquakes."

However, subsequent insurance struggles left Ms Hollander stressed out and without a home.

Ms Hollander has lived at her Avondale property for more than 23 years. But after the house was condemned, she was forced to either move or wait for a complete rebuild. She says at her age, trying to do either is just "unpractical".

"It was a real pain finding a home and I was lucky to have my family as the land agents weren’t much help," she says.

Noreen Tully, another red zone retiree, has a similar story and says moving from her house of 15 years caused her the most stress.

"The moving process was unsettling to say the least, especially as there was a period where I didn’t know whether I was going to get an insurance payout or not,"she says.

Steven Carbines, who does post-quake counselling at the Canterbury Charity Hospital, says feelings of uncertainty can have dire effects on emotional wellbeing.

"[People] can move on quicker if they know what's going on, but the less they know the less hope they have that something is going to get done," he says.

Immediately after the quake Mr Carbines says he was treating people of all ages, but progressively his patients have become more middle-age and elderly.

Many patients find it hard to relax, experience panic attacks and even depression, he says.

Both Ms Hollander and Ms Tully credit their families with assisting them through the difficult moving process.

"I've been fortunate to have the support of my family and I’m thankful for all the help and support my daughters especially have provided," says Ms Tully.

Joe Brodie is a young writer-in-training for the 3 News ‘3Youth’ programme. 

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