But thanks to New Zealand Red Cross’ Earthquake Hardship Support Programme, Erica was referred to Community Energy Action (CEA) who helped make Erica’s house warm, dry and energy efficient. The programme has enabled dozens of people like Erica to undertake comprehensive repairs and afford to heat their homes.

After undertaking a Home Performance Assessment, CEA, with support from New Zealand Red Cross, upgraded Erica’s ceiling insulation, supplied and installed energy efficient LED downlights and a bathroom fan heater, provided lining for Erica’s curtains and dropped off a load of firewood.

“My place, I would say, is 100 percent warmer,” Erica says.

“My pipes used to freeze in the winter and my curtains were knackered. During the quake, the insulation got tossed around the ceiling; it was all over the place. The fireplace moved halfway across the room – all the bolts snapped off it.”

Erica says she is blown away by the repairs made to her home and by the attitude of the workers who undertook them.

“CEA sent electricians down. They replaced the lights, put a heater in the bathroom – it was incredible.

“Then they sent guys down to put the new insulation in. They put all the old stuff that had blown everywhere in the ceiling back to where it was, then put the new insulation on top. Honestly, it’s really thick now.

“I think it’s amazing about the curtain lining and getting those lights replaced as well. It’s phenomenal, really. And it’s not just what’s been done – it’s the attitude of the people who are doing it for you.”

Erica with a stack of firewood at her home.

Living in a warm, dry and energy efficient home has been life-changing for Erica and her dogs. She says her power bill is considerably less expensive now and she doesn’t have to worry about staying warm each winter.

“It’s really made a difference. It might sound over the top but the help I received really took my breath away, you know.”

She adds: “I think everybody should be extremely grateful for what’s been provided. I personally think it’s amazing. People probably say Hallelujah when they hear Red Cross’ name.

“Please, God, I hope there’s not another quake. But if there is, I will know who to call.”