Com­mu­nity spirit keeps Wa­iau tick­ing

Northern Outlook - - NORTH CANTERBURY BUILDERS - JONATHAN LEASK

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.’’

ALIX BUSH

The com­mu­nity unites on the morn­ing af­ter the earth­quake in Wa­iau.

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