A retired couple who have lived on Galpins Road for more than three decades say the tight knit community is still in shock six months after the gas explosion ripped through their homes and lives.

Carole and Nalford outside their uninhabitable home

Carole McKenzie-Walker and her husband Nalford Walker, 78, have been living in a hotel in Croydon since August 9.

The first night after the explosion a neighbour further up Galpins Road had put up the couple up for the night, but when the cordon was extended the next day they were were moved to a hotel.

Their house is opposite the three houses destroyed by the gas explosion and is being assessed by engineers for structural damage.

They are in the process of emptying it so that  repair work can begin but  aren’t hopeful of being able to move back until the end of the year at the earliest.

The majority of homes are owner occupied with many residents having retired having lived and brought up their families on Galpins Road. Carole and Nalford have lived on the Thornton Heath road for 35 years.

Carole said: “Most of us are retired here and it is a very tight community. We know our neighbours and have many friends on the road. We are still in shock and disorientated. Often we jump up in the night not knowing where we are.

“We have been treated OK. I must say the majority of those working in Merton Council have been empathetic and very helpful but I’m afraid a few have not got skills to speak to people and behave accordingly like to Sana.”

As we talked another resident passed and chatted with the couple.Her house was a couple of doors down and was boarded up.

The pensioner who had lived on Galpins Road for 50 years, said: “It’s  terrible. I don’t want to do anything or eat anything. When I saw the devastation of the Turkish earthquake all the memories came flooding back.”

Speaking at last week’s anniversary Carole McKenzie-Walker, 66, said: “Sana we think about you every day, so this quietness does not mean we don’t care. We are going through pain, in  and out of hospital…. it’s  been awful. We are all under doctor for PTSD therapies. We know how you feeling and you are in our prayers ever day.”