Six months ago the city of Christchurch, New Zealand was hit with the biggest natural disaster in its recent history. The earthquake that left the town in ruins was said to be the worst earthquake in 16,000 years by local geologists. Brad Dennehy, a man who the town of Milford considers one of their own, grew up in Christchurch and made the return to his hometown to help family and friends last April. This was made possible because of donations from individuals from across the Milford community.
On Saturday, June 25 Brad and his wife Yvette held a backyard get together to thank everyone in the community who helped raise money to send Brad home and help rebuild the town. After the earthquake hit New Zealand on February 22 Brad’s friend Ed Evans and other colleagues began raising awareness and funds for Brad’s return and aid for the earthquake victim. It was this money that sent Brad home to lend moral support to family and friends and use his background in building and infrastructure to make a real difference.
“Three months ago Ed Evans started this fundraiser at the Milford Tavern,” said Mr. Dennehy as he spoke to those in attendance on Saturday. “I am eternally grateful for all the help and very humbled by the experience.”
According to Mr. Dennehy, the city of Christchurch can be best described as a “warzone” with a very uncertain future. Aftershocks are still hitting the town six months after the original earthquake which has made it impossible for the roads, water and electricity to be fully restored. Since the area had not been hit by this kind of disaster in many generations, there was no emergency plan or escape route to help citizens during their time of need. The international response came in from Australia, Scotland, Thailand, Japan, the United States and throughout the world but without any warning residents were caught off gaud.
Luckily, Brad’s father and mother, Allen John (A.J.) and Glenys, survived the earthquake and were there Saturday night to talk about the town of Christchurch and thank the community of Milford for its support of their son. The money donated helped Brad return his family’s situation to some sense of normalcy as he helped rebuild his sister’s home. A.J. Dennehy spoke of the days following the quake and the excitement of their family to see Brad back in Christchurch.
“My wife just kept saying that she wished Brad was home because he would know what to do,” commented A.J. Dennehy. “With no way to communicate with each other we did not know when we would see him again. Our family thanks you all for the money, support and love; we will never forget you. ”
The town of Christchurch still has major work to be done just so citizens can get back to everyday life. In an email Mr. Dennehy sent during his trip home he described what he saw as he arrived.
“The western part of Christchurch is not bad, but the downtown region and eastern suburbs are facing massive issues. 6 weeks on they have made progress, but the utility infrastructure, roads and houses are for lack of a better description…”stuffed”,” recalled Mr. Dennehy in his email. “The entire downtown is still under lock down by the Army, with most of the central district business to be demolished. What the future holds here I am not sure.”
Mr. Dennehy’s ability to return home says much about the nature of the human spirit in the Milford community. When Brad’s hometown of Christchurch needed him most his other hometown of Milford made sure he was there to make a difference.