Here’s what we like about Corvette enthusiasts, their caring spirit to help their fellow man.
While naturally upset about the damage his classic 1972 Stingray suffered at the hands of a 7.8 earthquake that struck Kaikoura, New Zealand on Monday, Ian Walker is more concerned about his fellow residents in the small town.
Walker has been volunteer fire chief for 28 years in Kaikoura, so despite the fact that his home and his Corvette were damaged by the quake, the 70-year-old resisted the temptation to stay there and left out to do what he could to help other victims.
“I said to Gwen (his wife), I’ve got to go,” Walker said. “She said ‘No, no, no.’ If everyone said no, what would happen?”
Despite the damage to his own possessions, Walker was lucky. Two people were killed by the quake, which triggered a small tsunami and brought down rocks and mud across highways.
Even though the power went out and he couldn’t sound the siren to alert fellow volunteer firefighters to come to the station, all of them showed up anyway.
They proceeded to drive around the town warning people to get to high ground in case a tsunami caused a flood.
With the phones out, they also worked four-hour shifts manning the 111 number, and then were called to the collapsed Elms homestead, where Walker’s crew was able to work feverishly to tear at concrete slabs and free a 100-year-old woman. Unfortunately, her son didn’t make it out alive.
As for his Corvette, the quake knocked it off a hoist at his mechanic’s workshop onto its nose. A photo on a website shows Walker standing next to the now-vertical blue Sting Ray.
While he and his crew have been working around the clock to help others, Walker finally made it home for a little while to find his own house looked like a grenade exploded inside it.
“We have to leave our houses,” he said of the volunteer firefighters. “You go and deal with everyone else’s problems and go home and think, ‘Oh, crap!'”
Home to about 2,000 residents, Kaikoura was a popular destination for travelers wanting to go on whale-watching expeditions before the quake hit.
Walker is optimistic that the town will recover from this natural disaster, just like his Corvette.
“Everything is repairable,” he says. “Kaikoura will bounce back again.”