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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Community Expo - visitors' report

Gail and I visited the Community Expo at this morning. It is a struggle to know what to say about it.

The word "Expo" is misleading. An Expo conjours up visions of lots of people offering up a wide range of products and services suitable for every post-earthquake need. It was not that.

All entering the Expo were given a brochure and feedback forms to be completed. On walking in you pass wall posters of the process to be undergone, then encounter a Civil Defence video of the city (the one that has been on the internet). Beyond that are four booths and a number of poster boards with "thought provoking" images and words. Towards the exit is Speakers Corner, where celebrity and other figures address whoever is sitting in the stands.

The four booths, the only interactive part of the Expo, are labelled Life, Space, Market and Move. At each booth there are computers allowing for views to be recorded, and wall space where passers by can write and stick up post-it notes with brief descriptions of what the new city should, or should not, have.

And that is it. Was it worth visiting? Maybe. Certainly we both had opportunities, which we took, to provide feedback. Never the less the feeling remains that it had been over-sold and under done. Especially so in light of the mayor's message in the paper this morning. There will be a separate blog on that but, in the interim, one piece of advice: if you go to the Expo don't put your age on anything. The mayor's message (in the Press here) has a slight hint of ageism about it.

Post 22 February house safety observations

In the ten days after the 22 February earthquake, structural observations were made of 75,000 houses to determine of they should be given green, yellow or red stickers. Under the auspices of BRANZ (Building Research Association of New Zealand) engineers visited all red stickered houses to confirm the initial assessment, or issue an amended one**.

As part of this process, buildings were assessed to determine the extent to which different types of buildings coped with the earthquake, and look for patterns of success and failure. Based on this a preliminary report was produced, in bullet point form. An overview of the process, and link to download the preliminary report, can be found here.

Going through the report other uses can be found for it, such as a check list for buying an existing house, designing a new one, or deciding on some types of repairs.


** One of the criticisms of the response to the September earthquake was that people had been required to leave their homes with nowhere to go, and sometimes remaining had been an option. The stated purpose of this February exercise was to determine if the house, or part of it, was still safe for occupation. A lesson learnt.
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Charges for overdue and lost library books

The public library will be resuming overdue charges from the 18th of this month. The notice on their website reads:
Christchurch City Libraries is now resuming normal practice and will be charging for overdue items effective Wednesday 18 May (on this page here).
Charges for lost, irretrievable, damaged or destroyed books are also being levied. Notification of this follows on immediately after the over dues notice (use link above).


Police Report - Canterbury Earthquake: key points and forecasting

This has been blogged before (here), however it is such an important report it is worth blogging again.

In December 2010 the NZ Police released an extensive report of events after the September earthquake (which presumably reoccurred in February). It contains a significant amount of researched material that has looked at the problems arising from other major disasters (e.g. Hurricane Katrina, Australian bushfires) and put them into a Canterbury context in an attempt to forecast social and anti-social developments through 2011 and 2012.

One of the Report's pointers for the future is that properties/areas vacated for repairs or rebuilding will become focal points for vandalism and theft. Increased membership of Neighbourhood Watch would be a good place for us to start. It would be also useful if we were to discuss how repairs and rebuilds in our area could be staggered to ensure that all vacated properties have neighbours present about them.

The report, which makes very interesting reading, can be downloaded from here.
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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rebuilding Christchurch - earthquake engineers call for rethink

The 2011 Pacific Conference on Earthquake Engineering was held in Auckland last month. The conference theme was Building an Earthquake Resilient Society. As can be imagined, the Conference had an ever present reminder of how important the direction of their work was.

The New Zealand science news web news site has reported a number of observations from conference participants. Their summation of the views of the scientists:
Engineers are calling for a rethink in building design and standards in the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes. Designing to save buildings as well as lives would improve the resilience of crucial infrastructure following high magnitude quakes.
You can read observations and comments from some conference participants here. It will be interesting to compare what they think is necessary with what CERA and CCC offer up.

A few interesting quotes from conference participants:

* Prof Michael Pender, geotechnical engineer at Auckland University
[From a structural perspective] the MAJOR casualty after the September 04 earthquake was house foundations. The susceptibility of these to lateral spreading was emphasised again after February 22. We need revised standards for construction, and methods of site investigation that flag the risk of liquefaction.
* Dr Rolando Orense, Senior Lecturer in engineering at Auckland University
The buildings and residential houses affected by liquefaction can be retrofitted to make them stronger and to resist damage from future liquefaction.
* Dr Andy Buchanan, Prof of Civil and Natural Resource Engineering at Canterbury University
Lots of buildings in the Christchurch earthquake behaved exactly as expected, but they still ended up buggered.
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

AMI - earthquake claims information booklet

Over the last couple of weeks AMI has been sending policy holders a booklet detailing the handling of earthquake claims. If you are an AMI policy holder you should have received yours by now. A PDF version of the booklet is available from the AMI website (here), and printed copies can be requested via the website as well.

The booklet is well researched, equally well written, and presents the information clearly. Compliments to whoever it was that put the material together and published it. The booklet sets out the claims process, what is covered by EQC and what by insurance companies, and the need to continue with insurance cover.

If you are not an AMI customer I would recommend you download a copy. The finer points may be different from the policy you have, but the background and overall information is clear, concise, and seems to cover everything.
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Central City Plan

CCC have published a FAQ explaining why a Central City plan is needed, and provided some questions and answers they hope will give us the information we want.

Following the introduction there are 18 questions with answers. The questions are:
  1. What is the Central City Plan?
  2. Will the Central City Plan tell land and property owners what to do?
  3. Why is a Central City Plan needed?
  4. The Central City was failing, so why not just shift the Central City to another area of Christchurch, or get rid of it altogether?
  5. Will the community have the opportunity to be involved?
  6. Will the Council actually listen to the public or like usual, have they already made up their minds?
  7. How will you communicate with the community?
  8. What will this campaign cost and who paying for it?
  9. What can the community influence?
  10. I am concerned the Council does not have the expertise to put this Plan together – are you getting expert help with the Central City Plan?
  11. This seems like a lot of work – how much it is going to cost the ratepayers of Christchurch?
  12. Who will fund all the work that needs to be done?
  13. Is it not the role of CERA to do this work?
  14. How will the Council work with CERA?
  15. When will we get to comment on the draft Central City Plan?
  16. What guarantees, if any, are there that the land in the Central city can be rebuilt on? Or are we simply wasting everyone’s time.
  17. Is the Council going to hold up development in the Central City while it creates the Central City Plan?
  18. How is Council going to work with Ngai Tahu and ECan as outlined in the Act?
You can find this information here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Registering for temporary accommodation

It is now possible to register for temporary accommodation, such as that soon to be built at Linwood Park. You can do that here.
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Land issues delaying rebuilding - an insurance perspective

Another of Gail's discoveries. There is a website  www.insurancenews.com.au which is an online news service for Australasia’s insurance industry.

One of the articles on their site covers the issue of insurance delays while waiting for information on land stabilisation. Entitled Christchurch earthquake: Decisions on damaged land delay rebuilding, it does a very good job of bringing together all the separate bits of news, along with a few specialist comments, into one very clear article. It is here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Earthquake experiences of US engineers

Members of ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) have provided earthquake assistance for both the September and February earthquakes. 

One member, David Biggs, was in Christchurch delivering a seminar on structural engineering and seismic forensics on the 22nd of February. Another, Roberto Leon, arrived in Christchurch on the 15th of February to begin a teaching fellowship at Canterbury University. Other members came to Christchurch in April to assist in the assessment of buildings in the central city.

Some of these engineers kept daily journals of their experiences, mixing professional and personal observations and experiences. Their technical observations on assessment processes and building performance make interesting reading, as do their general comments on people and places. Compelling reading.

The journals are available online here
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Avonside Community Group Newsletter 8 May 2011

The Avonside Community Group newsletter, reproduced here in full, is produced by Leanne Curtis.

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!

Things continue to bubble away in Avonside and Christchurch in general. Unfortunately getting any definitive answers is a frustrating task. CanCERN continues to meet regularly with EQC, Mayor Bob Parker, insurance companies, banks, community well being groups, etc and we have finally developed a website and blog which shares whatever information we can tie down (www.cancern.org.nz). CanCERN is currently looking at how it can best share the issues and solutions/answers which come as a result of these regular meetings so watch this space.

CCC MEETINGS: The Mayor has agreed to establish regular meetings with CanCERN which will also include some of the infrastructure team. These meetings will follow along the lines of what we had with Civil Defence National Controller so we will be able to speak about specific issues in specific ideas. This is a great opportunity for Avonside to raise issues and suggest solutions which will make living here a little easier. Of course this depends on our ability to discuss these issues as Avonside Community Group so I am in the process of planning another get together.

COMMUNITY EXPO: By now, you should have received the CCC 'Share an Idea' newspaper delivered. This gives some framework for thinking about the CBD rebuild. The Community Expo is on 14 & 15 May at CBS Arena from 10am to 5pm. You can also feed your ideas via a number of social media avenues. www.shareanidea.org.nz