TWO Dublin sisters whose homes were wrecked in the New Zealand earthquake have been selflessly helping the people of Christchurch to cope in the aftermath.
Emily and Leah Heron, originally from Swords, told the Herald their lives have been "surreal" since the earthquake hit the city last month.
"My house is a building site," said Leah Heron (24), who has been staying with friends all over the city.
"I am living out of a backpack. I have no clothes, all my stuff that was in the house is ruined."
Leah has been working on the frontline with the Civil Defence in Christchurch for the past fortnight.
"I'm in charge of organising teams of people to take business owners to their properties in the city," she said.
"It's quite sad to see people going back to their places of work, loading up wheelbarrows and trolleys with their belongings, knowing they can't go back again."
She described the atmosphere in the city as "very low".
She recalls the day last week when the rescue mission was called off because it was believed no one could still be alive in collapsed buildings.
"That was an absolutely horrible day. All hope was lost, they brought sniffer dogs through the city twice and could find no sign of life," she said.
Leah's sister, Emily Heron (27), lost her house in the quake.
"My boyfriend and I had only moved in a few weeks ago, and now it's destroyed," she said.
"Part of the roof and the wall at the gable end of the house is collapsed, the place is a mess.
"We have been living in our friends' back garden in a tent. There was no power or running water at the start so it was pretty gross."
Emily is a teacher in a community school and will be back to work on Monday.
"The last two weeks have made me and my sister question our future here in Christchurch. But I am happy to stay put for now, it has become my home."firstname.lastname@example.org