Wintry blast making things tougher in Christchurch

6:17 pm on 15 August 2011

The second wintry blast to hit Christchurch in less than a month is exacerbating already difficult living conditions for thousands of people in the earthquake-hit eastern suburbs.

Snow has been falling since Sunday, and more showers are forecast for the next few days, bringing temperatures down to below zero degrees again.

Many residents are struggling to heat their homes, which are cracked, split and in some cases sinking.

Bexley resident Sue Holmes says she has got so many gaps and drafts in the house, it is almost impossible to stay warm.

In the suburb of Sumner, many residents stayed home from work today as snow up to 18 centimetres thick covered the seaside suburb.

A local resthome says it has hired a four-wheel-drive vehicle to pick up staff and it has a stand-by generator and a gas barbecue in case the power goes out.

Authorites are encouraging people to stay as warm and dry as possible and to check on neighbours - especially those who are elderly.

The Earthquake Commission says anyone whose house is not weathertight should call their free phone number 0800 326 243.