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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Red Cross: Part Time Hero

Become a Red Cross outreach volunteer.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Red Cross: Winter Assistance Grant still available

The Winter Assistance Grant is still available.

The purpose of the grant seems to have broadened and is now:

To assist all households living in homes significantly damaged by the earthquakes or who have had to move into damp or hard to heat accommodation.

More information is here, along with a downloadable application form.
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Earthquake Royal Commission – Discussion Paper: Roles and Responsibilities

The Royal Commission has published a discussion paper Roles and Responsibilities.

The Royal Commission is seeking contributions on any or all of the contents of the paper (here). The following is from the introduction to the paper:
This paper presents key issues that are faced by central and local government, the building and construction industry and other elements of the private sector when developing and enforcing legal and best practice requirements for buildings in earthquake events.
The Royal Commission, through its Terms of Reference, is required to make recommendations on:
the adequacy of legal and best-practice requirements for building design, construction, and maintenance insofar as those requirements apply to managing risks of building failure caused by earthquakes.
Respondents are asked to contribute views, evidence and well supported analysis on any or all of the topics documented in this paper in this context.

Catholic Cathedral update

An update on the Cathedral has been posted on the website of the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch, as part of the parish update.

The introduction to the update, released on the 10th of July, reads:
The Diocesan Strategic Planning Committee, which has the task of preparing a draft plan on the future location of Catholic churches and schools in the Christchurch diocese, has been formed and has held its first two meetings.
The draft plan, when completed, will go to Bishop Barry Jones for adoption of the draft after due internal process, and then taken to the wider Catholic community for their input. Priority in the plan will be given to the area covered by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA).
The full update can be found here.

We are not looking after each other

There have been many fine words about the need to look after each other, however it is clearly not happening.  Those best placed to help aren’t, and many of those who would like to no longer can.

There are problems with EQC and insurance companies causing great distress, however no one who can help is willing to do anything useful. Maybe a working party, review committee, or conference will be offered up, if there is enough noise, but nothing that can make changes. Why? Intervention is inappropriate as it disturbs the theories that govern these things. Why upset organised money if it is only the general public in distress?

The need for affordable housing and accommodation attracts pious sentiments, best wishes, and bogus interpretations of market theory. What is being done, is happening in the splendid isolation of remoteness from the problem and unencumbered with a sense of urgency or sympathy for the needs of now and the short term future.  Theory, slogans, and success-statistics are a good way for politicians, businesses, and bureaucrats to avoid the messy details of personal hardship.

Many of us have, to some extent or other, become hardened to the callousness of the big players in earthquake recovery. Hardened also to the fact that earthquake victims are not just those killed or injured on the 22nd, or suffered property damage.

Occasionally the starkness of how one person has suffered becomes a reminder that not only isn’t it business as usual, it is nowhere near an acceptable new reality either, and those making decisions and issuing directions still don’t value individuals. UK based website Demolition News has picked up on a Northern Outlook article on the distress of a demolition man who helped locate bodies at the CTV building. You can read it here. How many more people like him are around us, suffering their own private isolated hell? Who is looking for them? What corrective market forces does Minister Brownlee or his general manager Roger Sutton anticipate will kick into action?

Maybe it is time for those starting to feel strongly about these things to make an impression on those who could make a difference, but choose not to do so. Not only do they not choose to do so, there is no evidence they put great value on the the problems they are not fixing. Harsh? When was the last time a politician, public servant, or business manager resigned on a matter of conscience?

Check out the WeCan website (here) for some people who are working on making these sorts of points.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Earthquake Royal Commission – 9th July transcript of the CTV Building hearing

 The Royal Commission has published the transcript of the CTV Building hearing for the 9th of July 2012 (here).  The speakers were:

  • Dr Clark Hyland, director of Hyland Fatigue and Earthquake Engineering
  • Ashley Smith, director of Structure Smith Limited


  • CTV transcripts published to date


    The CTV transcripts published so far are listed below, along with the speakers on the day. Click on the date to go to the transcript.

    25 June

  • Stephen Mills QC, Counsel Assisting the Commission
  • Nilgun Kulpe, Building Occupant
  • Elizabeth Cammock, Building Occupant
  • Kendyll Mitchell, Building Occupant
  • Phillippa Lee, Building Occupant
  • Ronald Godkin, Building Occupant
  • (click on the link to continue)

    EQC on Opting Out

    Yesterday EQC sent an e-mail to those on their newsletter list with the following information on Opting Out:

    ‘Opting out’ has been in the media lately. What is opting out and why is it offered? EQC explains.

    All properties with total damage over $15,000, but with no one claim over $100,000 + GST are referred to EQC’s Canterbury Home Repair Programme, project managed by Fletcher EQR. Customers who choose to, can ‘opt out’ and manage repairs themselves, using their EQC entitlement, but organising all the logistics involved in the repair process. Before work begins, EQC and the customer agree the scope and cost of repair work.

    Recently, EQC has made a number of changes to the opting out process. These changes have been made in order to streamline the process for customers; making it easier for them to take control of their own repairs should they choose to do so.

    When a customer opts out, they are taking over the role of project manager from Fletcher EQR. With this role comes the responsibility to oversee the repairs of their house, and this includes payment of their contractor of choice.

    As repair work is completed, the customer (as project manager) presents invoices to EQC and these are paid. If, for whatever reason, the invoice falls due before EQC has paid the funds, then it becomes the project manager’s responsibility to pay the invoice and then to be reimbursed. EQC’s standard payment terms are the 20th of the month following invoice (although in practice we usually pay within two to three weeks of presentation of the invoice). Provided the invoice is correctly completed and received on time, the customer/project manager should have no difficulty paying the contractor on time.

    Project management is not the most appropriate solution for everyone, which is why the Fletcher EQR project management option exists: to give customers the peace of mind by taking care of all the building consent requirements, financial responsibility and quality control.

    Did you know?
    More than 18,000 houses have already been repaired under the Canterbury Home Repair Programme. This is the equivalent of repairing all houses in Nelson city.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    Earthquake Royal Commission – Another transcript of the CTV Building hearing

    The Royal Commission has published another transcript of the CTV Building hearing, this for the 5th of July 2012 (here).

    The speakers were:

    • Brian Kehoe, Structural Engineer, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc, USA
    • Daniel Morris, formerly of Knock Out Concrete Cutters
    • Dr Clark Hyland, director of Hyland Fatigue and Earthquake Engineering
    • Ashley Smith, director of Structure Smith Limited

    Monday, July 9, 2012

    Protecting Canterbury’s “lifeline” infrastructure from the worst

    EQC have released a report The Value of Lifeline Seismic Risk Mitigation in Christchurch. It is available in two versions: a Summary Report and a Full Report. They can be downloaded from here.

    Commissioned by EQC, the report identifies significant benefits from seismic strengthening and collaboration initiatives in Christchurch following a 1997 review, Risks and Realities. EQC have, over a number of years, funded a large amount of research into natural disasters, preparedness, and disaster recovery.  The extent, competence, and value of this part of their activities has been lost sight of in the last 18 months due the absence of such qualities in EQC’s bread and butter role.

    That 1997 review arose from work commenced in the early 1990s by the Christchurch Engineering Lifelines Group who had identified vulnerabilities in “lifelines” such as electricity and other parts of the city’s infrastructure.  Lifeline utilities are defined in the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002.

    From the Summary Report:

    The substantial programme of seismic mitigation fostered by the Canterbury Lifeline Utilities Group and undertaken by Christchurch lifeline utilities over many years, served Christchurch well in reducing earthquake losses and facilitating emergency responses and recovery. The damage would have been greater and the response slower if the preparatory work fostered by the Group had not been undertaken.

    In terms of ensuring Christchurch is well prepared for any future disaster it is a very useful document against which to assess the level of preparedness built into public and private sector development plans.