Neigh­bours rally for the Whe­lans af­ter slip

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - KRIS DANDO

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’.’’

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