Earthquake horror for Hucknall couple in New Zealand

Mick and Helen Braithwaite in New Zealand
Mick and Helen Braithwaite in New Zealand

THE DEADLY earthquake that ripped through Christchurch in New Zealand has forced a former Hucknall couple to flee their home — but left them thankful they are alive.

Mick Braithwaite and his wife, Helen, emigrated seven years ago.

They live in the idyllic hillside suburb of Mount Pleasant, which is ten minutes from the epicentre of the tremor that struck on Tuesday February 22.

Mick, Helen and their neighbours have been thrown into turmoil by a horrific natural disaster that has left more than 150 dead.

The couple have been forced to leave their home because of the severity of the damage. They are now praying he building won’t have to be bulldozed.

Mick (58) was driving into the capital city when the ground started to shake ferociously as the quake hit 6.3 on the Richter scale.

Speaking exclusively from New Zealand, Mick told the Dispatch: “My car was thrown about as the road erupted. It was like driving on jelly.”

The Braithwaites are well known in Hucknall and formerly ran Reliant Travel off High Street. A respected coach, Mick also played football for several Hucknall teams and was previously involved with Hucknall Town.

Late last year, the Dispatch reported that they had to dive for cover when a previous earthquake rocked Christchurch.

Although billions of dollars of damage was caused, miraculously no-one was killed.

But the latest tremor has caused widespread devastation. It is expected that the city will take up to 15 years to recover.

There are still problems with aftershocks and those affected in the worst-hit areas have only just been allowed to return to their homes to survey the devastation.

When the latest tremor hit, the Braithwaites were being visited by Helen’s niece, Emma Clarke, of Hucknall.

Emma and Helen (62) were in a café in the seaside area of Sumner and were left terrified as windows blew out and items fell from shelves.

Mick, who is now head coach with Mainland Premier Football League side Ferrymead Bays, said: “We drove back home to see roads flooded, cars and lorries in holes in the ground and buildings collapsed.

“We couldn’t reach home because the river bridge to our area was damaged. We had to wade through water and walk home.”

When the couple did arrive at their house, they were faced with “carnage”.

“Every cup, plate and glass was smashed,” Mick said. “Nothing was on walls or in cupboards. The microwave had flown off its shelf and the fridge was overturned and empty.

“Windows and doors were ripped open and glass smashed. There were cracks in every wall and ceiling.”

The couple are now waiting for the results of an assessment on their home to find out whether they can move back in.