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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Life in Avonside

This is for those outside Christchurch, or who don't read the Press.

Press feature writer Philip Matthews has written a very good article on life as it currently is in Avonside. Called Adrift in Limbo land, the article looks at the life of a few residents, both Red and Orange, as they deal with the problems of silt, dust, water, sanitation, CERA and insurance issues.

The article, in today's Saturday Press, is on-line here.
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Red Cross - new grants

The New Zealand Red Cross have announced two new grants:
  • storage grant
  • winter assistance grant

Storage Grant

The storage grant is: "To assist homeowners who have had to vacate their damaged property and pay for storage for their belongings anytime since 4 September 2010 and have exhausted other financial assistance to pay for storage." The value of the grant will be up to $500 per household.

More information is available here, along with a downloadable application form.

Winter Assistance Grant

Information on this grant will be available from the 13th of February here.
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Friday, February 3, 2012

Nicky Wagner - newsletter

Nicky Wagner has issued her first newsletter as electorate MP for Christchurch Central. You can read a copy of it here.

As electorate MP Nicky is the person to contact when you have queries, suggestions or concerns, and especially problems with government agencies (EQC, ACC etc.).
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Peter Beck's farewell from the Cathedral

From the February Cathedral Extra
The Cathedral Farewell to Dean Peter and Gay will be on Sunday the 19th of February.
Choral Evensong will be available at 6.30pm at Christ’s College Chapel (Note: NO 5.00pm service). Coffee and cake to follow in the College Dining Hall.
Donations for a gift can be given to any of the Cathedral staff or Vergers or placed in the offertory bags. Please make sure it is labelled Dean’s gift.
The Cathedral Extra is here.
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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Building Research Association of NZ (BRANZ) new earthquake page

BRANZ have gathered together a large amount of material "... designed to provide you with useful links, research and advice relating to building repairs and rebuilding work in the wake of the Canterbury earthquakes."

Lots of good stuff (here) covering:
  • Legislation and standards
  • Earthquake-prone buildings policies
  • Building performance
  • Repair and construction - general
  • Repair and construction - slabs and foundations
  • Repair and construction - walls and ceilings
The page has been compiled using information from the following sources: Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission, Department of Building and Housing, IPENZ, New Zealand Legislation, NZ Society for Earthquake Engineering, Standards New Zealand, Winstone Wallboards.
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EQC - FAQ update: structural and cosmetic damage

EQC have added descriptions of what they consider constitutes structural and cosmetic damage. These descriptions will be critical for house repairs, and potentially detrimental to the interests of homeowners.

The main issue with the descriptions is that they lack the clarity, precision and measurability of a definition. There is no reference to government or industry standards (Department of Building and Housing, BRANZ, Standards New Zealand, product manufacturers specifications and best practice publications).

They new descriptions (here for structural and here for cosmetic) are:
What is structural damage?
Structural damage refers to damage that requires an element to be removed and replaced, such as major cracking to plaster-board or external cladding that has been dislodged. It also relates to damaged foundations, roof structures and internal framing, where damage to the property is significant structural damage and could affect the overall structural integrity of the dwelling.
What is cosmetic damage?
Cosmetic damage refers to damage that can be repaired without having to move the damaged element from its original location, such as minor cracking to plaster-board.
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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mayor’s Welfare Earthquake Relief Fund - applications now open

From the council's website here.
The Christchurch City Council is calling for residents who have been doing it tough since the earthquakes to put forward their application for the Mayor’s Welfare Earthquake Relief Fund.
“Anyone can apply, there is no personal income threshold for eligibility and funding can be granted up to $2500 per application. I encourage people to make the most of this opportunity and the chance to get a bit of financial help to ease them into the new year.”
All applications must be earthquake related and the applicant must be living in Christchurch. Applicants can receive assistance once from the fund.
Applications can come from individuals and families who are residents of Christchurch city. The eligibility criteria are:
  • All applications must be earthquake-related
  • The applicant must be living in Christchurch
  • Applicants can receive assistance once from the fund.
  • Retrospective funding can not be provided
  • The fund will not grant funding that is the responsibility of another agency
There is further information and a downloadable application form here.
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Flethchers/EQR - health and safety issues associated with silt and dampness

Fletchers/EQR have issued an EQR Safety Alert for those working on repairs where there has been a build up of silt under the house.

Some extracts from the two page alert:
Bacteria, viruses and parasites
The main health risks from contaminated silt are gastro-intestinal illnesses, including E.Coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter. Other potential health hazards include skin infections, leptospirosis and viral illnesses such as hepatitis.
Workers will be most at risk of coming into contact with bacteria through swallowing or from direct contact with skin (e.g. facial splashes). Broken skin is another avenue for bacterial infection.
Moulds and fungi
Moulds, fungi and some bacteria favour damp conditions, and can be found where water has leaked into houses from places where wet silt has been in contact with house structures such as wooden floors or piles.
Moulds and fungi produce tiny particles called spores. These can easily become airborne when mouldy material is disturbed or in dusty/windy environments. Some moulds also produce toxins that can be a danger to health. Moulds and fungi can cause a hacking cough, respiratory problems, nose or throat irritation, nasal and sinus congestion, eye irritation, allergic reactions or skin  rashes/irritation, and can worsen pre-existing asthma.
A copy of the safety alert is here.
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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Community grants funding applications to open

The following is from the council's website here.
31 January 2012
Applications for funding from the Christchurch City Council’s various community grants gets underway in the next few weeks, with the Strengthening Communities fund the first to open on Wednesday 15 February.
Chair of the Funding Committee, Councillor Barry Corbett, says as the applications rounds start up, the Council will be holding information seminars to ensure community organisations are fully informed.
“We will be hosting drop-in sessions over the coming weeks to ensure community organisations have a chance to seek information and get any queries answered before they submit their applications for community funding.”
The Public Grant Funding Information Seminars will be held on the following days:
    Wednesday 8 February – 10am – 12 noon at the Beckenham Service Centre boardroom
    Wednesday 8 February – 6pm – 8pm at the Linwood Service Centre boardroom
    Thursday 9 February – 6pm – 8pm at the Papanui RSA meeting room.

Joint property assessments - EQC and insurance companies

EQC have issued a media release stating EQC is working with insurance companies in the assessment of properties. Priority will be given to Red Zone properties, where joint inspections are underway, followed soon by other areas.

From the media release:
Mr Emson says EQC and insurers are working closely to resolve costing and apportionment issues, but in some cases a combined inspection may be the quickest way to move forward. Difference in assessments is not a reflection on the quality of work by either EQC or insurer field teams.
“There is a myriad of reasons for the variance, which reflects the complexity of the work insurers, including EQC, face when trying to assess damage across multiple events.
“Changes to EQC’s methods for allocating damage between events, Department of Building and Housing guidelines and building rates, and the continued stress on buildings through time, weather and countless aftershocks has all contributed to claims where there are differences between insurer and EQC costings.
“It is in everyone’s best interests, particularly our customers, that issues surrounding repair costings, apportionment and repair strategies are sorted out quickly.
It seems counter-intuitive to say that the difference in assessments has nothing to do with quality (or competence).  Full disclosure by EQC of Scope of Works documents including costings, along with descriptions of the work to be undertaken where a repair is concerned, would be the best means of removing this doubt. The full release is here.

Earthquake Royal Commission - Cathedral 32 (the Press building)

The Royal Commission have added documents relating to the failure of the Press building at 32 Cathedral Square to their on-line library here.

An independent assessment of the earthquake performance of the building was undertaken for the Commission by Spencer Holmes Ltd. It is available here.
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Monday, January 30, 2012

A Tale of Two Crises - Reserve Bank governor's view on Europe and Christchurch

Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard delivered a speech to the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce on Friday. Entitled A tale of two crises it covered both the economic threat posed to New Zealand by Europe's debt crisis, and the Canterbury earthquakes.

The first part of the speech covers Europe, the threats and opportunities for New Zealand and some scenarios for where the European problem may develop.

The Christchurch situation covers progress to date, issues with insurance and uncertainty, and the financial impact of the damage (international and domestic).

The speech is available here.
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