Chimney trouble for Santa in quake-hit Canterbury
BY SHAHRA WALSH
Santa Claus is coming to town, but in earthquake-hit Christchurch he is going to need some help with the directions.
The September 4 magnitude 7.1 quake left many properties in the Canterbury region uninhabitable and claims received by the Earthquake Commission indicate at least one in nine houses suffered chimney damage.
To help Santa reorganise his flight plan, a website has been set up for children to let him know if they have moved, and whether safe access to the house was still possible via the chimney.
Laurence Ilott, head elf in charge of www.santashelper.co.nz, put the site together on Saturday after speaking to a close friend who lost their house after the quake.
”Their seven-year-old daughter was getting teased at school about [missing out on presents] and was getting really upset.”
Since it was put up, about ”about 8 or so” messages had been received from children concerned about their unstable roofs and cracked chimneys, but Ilott said people need not worry.
”Santa’s always got other ways of getting in. Parents can leave out a magic key that only Santa can see. And his sleigh can hover above the roof so that it doesn’t cause any more damage.”
Ilott said Santa would personally reply to each message, to reassure any children who were concerned.
”People are still really on edge [following the quake]. I have two young children myself, and it’s not easy explaining these things. I just thought it was a nice thing to do,” he said.
Santa would also use the site to gather ”naughty or nice” data and take present requests.
Despite the extra organisation and planning that would be needed for this year’s Christmas delivery run, Santa was confident his team of elves and reindeer were up to the job and wished Cantabrians a safe and happy holiday period.
– The Press