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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Street Update

As at 1.00 pm yesterday (Friday) Swanns bridge was open, as was the Swanns end of Retreat Road (although it is closed to through traffic and a local safety warning has been issued - see below).

The Woodham Road end of Avonside Drive remains closed although there is no obvious reason why this should be so. Perhaps the road was fixed and someone forgot to take away the signs?

Street sign - Retreat Road

Nicky Wagner MP - Earthquake Update #6

National MP Nicky Wagner has released Issue 6 of her earthquake updates.

This issue can be found on her website here.
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Friday, March 18, 2011

Memorial Service - Friday the 18th of March

For those of you outside New Zealand, and may not have been aware, a memorial service was held in North Hagley Park today to remember those who died, support the families and friends of the victims, encourage all who have suffered in some way, and especially to pay tribute to those who helped. Over 100,000 people attended.

There are some videos showing the memorial service, and a video shown at the service with previously unseen images of the devastation within the city.

The main source of videos is on the Stuff/Christchurch Press website


The longer version of damage to the city can also be seen on Stuff


and also here on YouTube

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Changes to bus services

As improvements to roads and bridges are made, additional routes are coming back into service, sometimes with amended routes. Please check the route of your usual bus as some significant changes have been made e.g. the No 60 does not travel along Stanmore Road as it used to. For the moment it travels up Hills Road.

The latest information can be found at Metro Canterbury's urban transport website here.

Free bus travel has been extended until Sunday the 27th of March.

Christchurch Earthquake Bulletins from Labour MPs

Canterbury's four labour MPs have now combined to produce regular earthquake bulletins.

These bulletins detail the issues and actions they are involved with and can be found on Brendon Burn's website which is here.

Hopefully they will be able to continue these long term.
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EQC - Rapid Assessments FAQ

EQC have added information about the rapid assessments currently underway.

The questions for which answers are provided are listed below. I have underlined the one most likely to be of interest, however the answer is not a particularly helpful one.
  • What other sources of assistance are available to residents?
  • Who can help with temporary accommodation if my house is uninhabitable?
  • What should I do if I think my house is unsafe?
  • If I am assessed under the rapid assessment process, do I still need to make a claim to EQC?
  • Do I need to wait for a rapid assessment before fixing any damage to my property?
  • Will I be notified before the EQC assessors visit?
  • What happens if I think your rapid assessment is wrong
  • What do I need to do to get a rapid assessment?
  • Who will get a rapid assessment and who will get a full assessment?
  • How does EQC define houses with severe structural damage?
  • How will assessors prioritise properties for a full assessment at a later date?
  • How will assessors decide if a property needs emergency repairs?
  • What is the rapid assessment process?
  • What should I do if my house needs emergency repairs?
  • What’s the maximum amount I can receive from EQC to help me repair earthquake damage to my house?
  • What is the Earthquake Commission’s role in helping people in the recovery process in Canterbury?
The FAQ can be found here.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Flood Protection - Dallington Terrace

Parts of the city adjacent to the river have sunk, creating a number of places likely to flood when there are extremely high tides and/or heavy and prolonged rain. Higher than normal tides are expected on Sunday and Monday.

These photographs show the preparations being put in place along a small part of Dallington Terrace, just above the Dallington Bridge. Similar preparations are going on in other parts of the Eastern suburbs, as a precaution.

River bank protection, Dallington Terrace.

Flood protection sand bags, just in case.

House on Dallington Terrace near the flood protection works.

EQC Factual Geotech Reports - all of these reports are now available

EQC have released all of the geotech factual reports from the surveys carried out following the September 4 earthquake.

There is nothing on the website to say whether these surveys need to be redone because of the February 22 earthquake, or to what extent they might be considered still relevant. Chances are they are still partially relevant because they look at the way land has been built up over time. What will be missing is the changes to the soil as a result of the February 22nd earthquake and the consequential lateral spread and liquifaction.

No additional interpretative reports have been released

The list of all the factual reports can be found here. The Avonside report is here.
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Labour Party - Canterbury earthquake web page

Back on the 16th of February I made the comment that earthquake related matters seemed to considered trivial by all the political parties, if their websites were anything to go by. The post is here.

The Labour Party have now changed their website to highlight the role their four local MPs are playing. In addition there is now a page dedicated to the work being done by each of these MPs, updated regularly. A very good idea indeed, and a chance to see just how much work is being done by MPs.

The Canterbury earthquake page is here.
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Community Law - free legal help

Community Law Canterbury is offering free legal help to anyone with earthquake related legal issues. You can visit their drop-in centre at 35 Riccarton Road or give them a call. There is a legal help line 0508 CANLAW (226529) available from 9.00 am and 7.00pm (sorry, I don't know which days) and the reception number 366 6870 operates from 9.00am to 5.00pm.

The message below is from CanLaw's website. I have underlined the sentence that relates to free legal assistance.
Community Law is still standing however it will be some time until we are able to re-enter our premises on Madras St. From 7/3/2011 our legal information phone lines are operational between 9am and 7pm Monday to Friday. We are running our Drop-in Clinic from Monday to Saturday between 10am and 2pm at 35 Riccarton Road.
In addition a free lawyer will be available at various locations throughout the Eastern Suburbs. For a free lawyer near you phone 366 6870.
Reception is now open at our temporary location at 35 Riccarton Road and phone lines are operational between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday on 366 6870.
They also have a few legal fact sheets that can be downloaded from their website, which is here.
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Street Update

As at midday today the only road access to Cowlishaw, Chaddesden and Retreat is via Patton or Gloucester. Retreat is still closed to all traffic except for residents' vehicles.

Work has been done to repair the road at the intersection of Avonside Drive and Swanns bridge, although the bridge is still closed for the moment. Avonside Drive remains closed off at the Woodham Road end.
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Business Roundtable - some advice for CCC

The NZ Herald reports that the New Zealand Business Roundtable is urging the Christchurch City Council sell off its share holdings in businesses in Christchurch, and so free up money for rebuilding infrastructure. The Herald article is here.

According to the Herald, the view of the Business Roundtable is that by:
"... Reducing its shareholding in its port, airport and electricity companies (CCC) would free up cash for repairs to local infrastructure without imposing new burdens on ratepayers," the roundtable said.
As pointed out by the Herald, the investments are strategic, provide a good return to the city, and in turn help keep rates lower.

This argument has been had before and, for the city and its residents, it makes no sense. Overall the investments are sound, return money to the city, and help keep control of essential assets: Orion (electricity supply), Christchurch Airport, Lyttelton Port Company, Christchurch City Networks, the Red Bus, and City Care.

The Herald report is based upon part of an article entitled Some Public Policy Implications of the Canterbury Earthquake by Roger Kerr, executive director of the New Zealand Business Roundtable. When you read the article you will find that encouraging the City to sell off it's investments is only part of the range of changes being promoted.

The earthquake seems to have become an opportunity for a pre-existing range of issues to be revisited in a different and more urgent context. The big view being promoted is that:
"The tragic events in Christchurch will have implications for the government and councils in the region for years to come.  Public policies could help or hinder the recovery process."
From this proposition the argument pursued is that bad public policies will cause an over-long recovery, and be less useful in alleviating the hardship that Christchurch faces. The solution is seen as "Good public policies, focused above all on economic flexibility and growth, could greatly alleviate the hardship that Christchurch faces and promote a speedier recovery." I wonder what value can be put on the word 'could' in that statement?

The good public policy issues raised include: changes to student loans and working for families to remove the need for a general tax to fund rebuilding Christchurch, increased funding to private schools to allow them to take more of the displaced students, possibly applying the experience of fast-tracking under emergency legislation to the wider reforms of the Resource Management Act, fast tracking housing and, by implication, freeing up land use, and more. You can form your own opinions by reading the article on the Business Roundtable website here.

An approach that is particularly disturbing to me is the prospect of replacing democracy with market forces when devising the rebuilding strategy. To quote the article:
"A broader issue is the relative role of top-down and bottom-up strategies in rebuilding Christchurch.  Clearly the devastation is too vast for a detailed centrally planned strategy to be viable.  Central and local government need to concentrate on their vital roles and let markets work."
Where is the discussion of the bottom-up approach of the residents of Christchurch? Imperfect though it is, it resides in the electoral and representational process which provides governance at the local level - the same local government that conducts its business in a manner labeled as not being viable. And, what of market forces - to what extent in the past did the markets work to make the city a desirable, coherent and safe place in which to live, work, study, and holiday?  It will take a Royal Commission of Enquiry to answer that, in the meantime there is no evidence for pronouncing that the markets know how to deal with ordinary city growth, let alone disaster recovery.

In a free country it is lawful, right, and proper for individuals to be able to express their views at any time. Quite often timing is important: on occasions there are advantages in being quick to raise an issue, at other times it is considered appropriate to allow a situation to settle before offering a view. To use the devastation of Christchurch, especially so early in the season of recovery, is at best an insensitive device for promoting a political platform that is better reserved for other occasions. At worst it could be considered as being obscenely opportunistic.

I await with interest what response, if any, we get from John Key, Bill English and Gerry Brownlee.
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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Free Counselling

Free counselling is available from any of these agencies:
  • Counselling Helpline  0800 777 846
  • Victim Support 0800 842 846 24/7. Telephone contact. People may need to leave their details and a volunteer will ring them back.
  • Samaritans 0800 726 666  24/7. National telephone listening and support service staffed by volunteers.
  • Relationship Services 0800 735 283
    Offering a free Government funded crisis counselling service for anyone affected by the Christchurch earthquake:
    1 - 24/7 telephone support for Christchurch residents and others outside Christchurch
    2 - face-to-face counselling for those outside of Christchurch.
    To find the nearest RSW office call 0800 RELATE (0800 735 283) or visit www.relate.org.nz.
  • Lifeline 0800 543 354 24/7. Trained telephone counsellors.
  • Iwi Maori and Pacific Island Residents 0800 524 8248 (Te Runanga O Ngaitahu) 0800 875 839  or 027 600 9412 (Te Puni Kokiri)
  • Ethnic Support Migrants and Refugees on the government helpline 0800 779 997 or at Settlement Support New Zealand 0800 776 948.
  • The Canterbury Chinese Support Group is offering help and advice for Chinese people affected by the earthquake. Its headquarters is at the Rewi Alley Centre in Riccarton, Christchurch.
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Emergency Accommodation

From the Canterbury Earthquake Temporray Accommodation Service:
Emergency accommodation services are currently being provided by Housing New Zealand. If you require support to locate emergency accommodation, or you have accommodation to offer, please call 0800 HELP 00 (0800 435 700) or visit www.housinghelp.govt.nz
Services to meet the needs of those affected by the earthquake and needing longer term accommodation, will be available soon, through this service.
This web page can be found here.

Hot Showers

Council provided hot showers are available from 7.00am to 7.00pm as per the following:
Portable hot showers are now available to the public at the following locations around Christchurch:
* Cowles Stadium – Pages Road
* Wilding Park – Woodham Road
* Avondale Golf Course – Cnr of Wainoni and Avondale Road
* New Brighton – Cnr of Hawke Street and Shaw Avenue
* South New Brighton Motor Camp – Estuary Road
* Shirley Rugby Club – New Brighton Road and Cresswell Ave.
The portable showers will be operational between 7am and 7pm, seven days a week. All shower facilities are operated by professional staff and have security on site.
The public are advised to bring with them the following:
* A towel
* Soap / shampoo etc
* Jandals or shower footwear.
Please call the welfare team on 027 707 0098 for more information.
The latest updates on this service can be found here.