Help rebuilt our dream house after strong earthquake

Update posted by Lada Novak Starcevic On Feb 28, 2021

About ten years ago, we fulfilled our wish to move from Zagreb to our countryside paradise. We took out a mortgage to buy a house in Vukomeričke Gorice, having invested all the money we had earned in the property and indigenous animal farms. We then had two children, and a year and a half ago started breeding the rarest Croatian breed of pig as part of our farms. Life was beautiful.

And then came - the earthquake. On December 29, Petrinja as well as the entire region was shocked by the devastating earthquake measuring 6.4 degrees on the Richter scale.

Our house is located about 20 kilometres from the epicentre and has suffered great damage. Series of aftershocks were in our nearby neighbourhood. The home we live in got a yellow sticker, which in short means – temporarily unusable. The load-bearing walls on the first floor that hold the roof together cracked. Engineers say that we stay in the house on our own responsibility because every stronger blow could bring everything down on our heads.

They offered us a hotel stay or a container. But we stayed in our home because we have a living room on the ground floor where it is safe. Anyway, we have to take care of twenty Turopolje pigs, three dogs and two cats that we can't simply leave behind.

The damage is most severe on the first floor of the house, unfortunately mostly in the children's room, which our 11-year-old and 8-year-old were very much looking forward to having. They kept decorating the room, especially Ema who before the earthquake spent most of her time in there.

On Christmas, just four days before the awful December 29 she had finally arranged it to her liking and had set up decorative lights that she wished to have for months. And then a part of the wall plaster under which she sleeps broke off like a boulder on her headboard. Now she doesn’t feel safe in her room and her younger brother doesn’t even consider going there.

We pay for home insurance regularly and have continued from this summer but unfortunately not for earthquakes because we felt it was too expensive…

My husband Emanuel and I work, I am a journalist and he is a teaching assistant. We also run our farm and take care of the animals. (OPGStarcevic). Emanuel is a longtime engaged activist (https://www.facebook.com/groups/290537687728157).

We never had plenty of money but it was enough to always pay our bills. Now we have come up against a brick wall. There is talk of renewal but nothing is made public and the costs are piling up. We cannot raise more loans. Our house needs a detailed inspection of a structural engineer with the preparation of an earthquake remediation and cost estimates for necessary reconstruction, and then we have to work with bills and very complicated bureaucratic obstacles in hopes that we may get a partial refund in the future. The first assessment of an earthquake engineer was that the walls on the first floor are to be demolished and rebuilt alongside roofing once that part is repaired.

We would be grateful for any help. Tile by tile and brick by brick it can make our home happy again.

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Lada Novak Starcevic

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