Community spirit keeps Waiau ticking
Alix Bush became the Waiau Civil Defence volunteer co-ordinator the morning of the earthquake.
Her husband Peter was the coordinator but as he is a builder and member of the Waiau Volunteer Fire Brigade, he was ‘‘better utilised’’ elsewhere.
So Alix instantly became a central part of a turbulent 12 months.
‘‘The Waiau community has really stepped up,’’ Alix said.
‘‘Waiau has great community spirit and if things need to be done, people come out of the woodwork and stuff gets done.’’
That was the attitude from day one of post-quake Waiau.
Around 30 minutes after the earthquake, generators were set up at the Waiau School and amidst the chaos the community rallied together for a communal breakfast within the hour and throughout the morning.
‘‘For the first few hours, I was in a bit of a state of disbelief that it had been such a big quake.
‘‘We didn’t know at that stage or even imagine that the epicentre of the main quake was only a few kilometres from us.
‘‘There was a certain level of shock and disbelief that it had happened so close to us but also relief that there weren’t more serious injuries.’’
As the first day wore on, Bush said supplies started to arrive and things were getting done.
‘‘There was a certain level of urgency to get as much done in daylight hours as we could to start returning things to normality, the new normality.’’
As the Civil Defence coordinator, Alix witnessed the highs and lows of the earthquake response.
‘‘Sitting in the Sector Post one day someone came in and asked if there was anywhere that a Hercules could land. I thought about it for a bit and responded with ‘probably Christchurch’.
‘‘To this day I still don’t know if he genuinely thought there would be anywhere around that would cope with an aircraft of that size given the severity of the land damage.’’
She said the earthquake response was sometimes caught up in red tape decisions when there really needed to be a common sense approach to some issues being faced.
‘‘We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy road.
‘‘There is a certain level of frustration for things, which is understandable given the magnitude of what happened.
‘‘However, from what I’ve seen, those who have been able to focus on small milestones and positive outcomes along the way to the bigger picture, and are trying not be overwhelmed by the enormity of what they are dealing with, are getting there, albeit slowly.’’
‘‘Dwelling on things we can’t change or negativity only seems to slow down progress further.
‘‘A quick drive through Waiau and one could be forgiven for thinking that there isn’t much wrong with the place, however, behind the fences and closed doors there is so much more going on that is unseen.’’
The community unites on the morning after the earthquake in Waiau.