5 September 2018
Liandra and Buck Allen opened their home to strangers who were displaced by the April 29 flood and now have “adoptive parents”.
Theirs is one story of many, where the community has come together to help people in need.
The severe weather event in April spurred an outpouring of community spirit, from people opening up their homes, to helping clean up, move damaged furniture and donating clothes, food and furniture. The community has also come together to donate money to flood affected residents though the Mayoral Manaakitanga Relief Fund.
On the day of the flood, the Allens, who live in Lynmore, went to check on their son and at his York Street home. The found the street flooded with several people unsure what to do.
Their son’s property was okay, but they walked around to see if they could offer any help.
“We’re ex Air Force and it was just something that you did. You become very community minded and try and help out where you can,” Liandra says.
Buck got stuck in to help clear a blocked drain and Liandra stumbled across Janice O’Brien, an 80-year-old woman with rolled up trousers, knee deep in water, trying to get the water out of her house.
Liandra got to work and was helping Janice push the water out with a broom.
“It wasn’t until we got inside that we realised Janice’s husband Joseph was there too.”
Joseph is not as physically capable as Janice and Liandra says he seemed to be in a bit of shock at the event.
“We knew there wasn’t much else we could do until the water receded, so we offered them somewhere to stay.
“I didn’t think twice about it,” she says.
“I just thought they were a lovely couple and they shouldn’t have to go to a hotel. We have the space, so it just seemed like the right thing to do.”
“They just told us to grab our things and go home with them,” Janice says.
“We even took the cats.”
Janice said the Allens had been “absolutely marvellous” and so positive throughout this experience.
“They were just wonderful,” she says.
“Liandra took a day off work and helped us sort bits and pieces.”
After staying with the Allens for a week, the O’Briens were able to move to temporary accommodation.
The O’Briens lost everything in the flood including their computer and phone. Recognising that maintaining contact with family was important for the O’Briens, Liandra took them to Vodafone and arranged for the purchase of a mobile phone. She also arranged for a call diversion service to be put in place diverting calls from their home landline to their new mobile. When the staff at Vodafone were made aware of the situation they gave the O’Briens a $50 credit on their mobile account.
The Allens also cobbled together the components for a fully functional computer.
“We are just so grateful,” Janice says.
For Liandra and Buck, the situation has provided them with an extended family.
“Neither of our parents are around,” Liandra says.
“Jan and Joe have become our adoptive parents. We didn’t realise that part of our life was missing, and they are just such a lovely couple.”
Meanwhile, Janice says their flood recovery journey has been “pretty smooth” and that is down to the generosity of the Allens as well as other contractors.
“We know we are incredibly lucky.
“We want to say thanks to Jae Rotorua, Tower Insurance, Gallagher and Bassett assessors, Terry Robinson and his men at Lifestyle Building Solutions, who all made an awful situation so much easier.”
The O’Briens are still in temporary accommodation, but are hoping to be moving back home in the next few weeks.