Alosia Lavea’s eyes are brimming with tears as she returns to her South Auckland home for the first time since the terrifying night in January when she swam for her life as her home was deluged.
She was home with four of her grandchildren, aged from 6 to 12, who were increasingly alarmed as torrential rain swamped their front steps, then the letterbox, then the car.
“It was very scary,” Alosia remembers, and the tears start to fall. “All our stuff was floating all over the place outside. The little one asked me, ‘Are we going to die?’
“I had to be strong. My son and daughter came, and I said, ‘Take the kids, don’t worry about me, I can swim out.’ When I got out the car was covered in water. I said, ‘Thank God, he gave us life.’ We are very lucky.”
The family’s Kāinga Ora home was unliveable, and many of their possessions destroyed. They had not been able to not afford contents insurance. For the last six months, they’ve been surviving in emergency accommodation.
But today, Alosia’s tears are also of gratitude. She is overwhelmed to see her house has been completely renovated, and every room is filled with new furniture. The household package comes thanks to thousands of Kiwis who donated to KidsCan’s flood appeal.
“Everything is brand new! It’s the first time in my life.” she cries. “I’m very blessed. All I have to say is thank you. Thank you very much for every single thing people have done for my family. How can I repay them? God bless you all.”
Alosia’s thoughts quickly turn to others in her community who have lost everything - but she’s not the only one to receive the household package. Up to 100 families in Auckland, Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay are receiving similar support.
The Lavea home is kitted out with beds and bedding, bedside tables, drawers, a dining table and chairs, a lounge suite, the kitchen has a new fridge, a microwave, a rice cooker; the cupboards are filled with cutlery, crockery and glassware. A washing machine and fluffy towels wait in the laundry.
Alosia’s grandson stretches out on the plush couch and grins, before the Lavea family gather for a photo, ready to put the awful memories of Auckland Anniversary behind them and start afresh in a warm, dry, comfortable home.
KidsCan would like to thank Big Save and Fisher & Paykel who are providing discounted goods for these housing packages. We're grateful to everyone who donated to the flood appeal, including our business community - in particular Graeme and Robyn Hart, our Principal Partner Meridian Energy, ASB, BNZ, The Coffee Club, Dines Charitable Family Trust, dōTERRA Healing Hands Foundation, The Property Group, Technology One for their support of this appeal.