Neighbours rally for the Whelans after slip
Bernie Whelan knows a good story, and was part of one last week after a tide of mud and water threatened his home.
The long-time Whitireia Polytechnic journalism tutor and wife Cheryl had to leave his home of five years on Wednesday after a large chunk of a hillside ended up in the backyard.
The troubles stemmed from a culvert halfway up the hillside in Moonraker Pl, Whitby, becoming blocked during the storm on Tuesday morning.
‘‘The water had nowhere to go,’’ Whelan said.
‘‘It was strange because there was no loud noise – it was raining hard and the water and mud just started piling up.
‘‘It settled against the house, made a real mess of our beautiful landscaping.
‘‘It was quite scary to watch it all happen in front of you.’’
He and wife Cheryl, along with neighbours, spent hours on Tuesday trying to push the water away from their home.
Then help arrived unexpectedly.
Daughter Caitlin, who lives in London, posted on social media about her parents’ situation, and more than dozen volunteers showed up on his front door about noon on Tuesday.
‘‘We had a real mess to deal with, and people came to help us tackle the mud, for about four or five hours.
‘‘It was an incredible gesture, quite moving.
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve said ‘thank you’ to these amazing people.’’
Along with the volunteers and their shovels, the Tuk Tuk Thai Kitchen came to give out free food, and a resident brought the Whelans a box of shortbread.
The Whelans decided on Wednesday to leave the house, especially when more rain came to threaten more of the slip to move.
Whelan has contacted his insurer, Vero, which told him he was not covered until damage was caused to the house.
Even in the midst of a dire situation, Whelan still had his journalist tutor’s hat on.
‘‘I wish I’d called some of the [journalism] students up here, because I thought ‘ This is a story’.’’