Reprinted from The Press and The Timaru Herald Monday, August 8 2011.
Ofelia Chambers' uninsured earthquake-damaged Christchurch home is finally getting some attention.
At the weekend, community group Addington Action began repair work on uninsured homes in the area occupied by the elderly.
Mrs Chambers, 69, who is originally from Venezuela, lost her husband when his heart deteriorated after the September earthquake.
Her Macaulay St property, which she owns, was damaged in the February quake. Both the chimney and fence collapsed.
"I'm taking care of my young grandson and I get really worried about safety issues now that I don't have a fence," she said.
On Saturday, more than 10 people, including three builders, arrived at her house to help out.
"They tidied up and they sorted out of the garden, which was great because it had started to look like a jungle," she said. "They have started making a fence and everyone was so friendly."
Mrs Chambers said the group was bringing the community together.
"It was just so comforting to see them helping out where they can. There was a lot of young people who were giving their time and people brought food and tea ... it was really good."
The Earthquake Commission had removed her chimney but without insurance she was not eligible for a heating alternative.
"The house has been freezing this winter. I've got a cushion stuffed into the gap where the chimney used to be," she said.
Addington Action organiser Mike Peters said despite having "bugger all money and bugger all resources", the group was able to help. "A lot of the houses don't have major damage. It's all little things really, but for an 85-year-old or whoever, they can't be expected to get on to the roof or do stuff like that."
The weekend was a "great success", he said. "People are definitely really appreciative and that's what it's all about."
The group will continue to repair uninsured Addington homes over the next two months.