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Friday, 23 December 2011

Post after-shocks report

Poor old Retreat Road experienced significant amounts of liquefaction and flooded again, as did the southern end of Keller Street (see photographs below). Chaddesden Lane and both ends of Cowlishaw Street also experienced liquefaction. Patten Street, Silverdale Place and Halley Place seemed okay. Once more the river turned the colour of mushroom soup.

There seems to have been no injuries or significant problems with property. The worst damage has been sustained by people, especially Orange zoned people, who still don't know what the future holds for them as their well being is battered again.

How long is it going to be until those in Retreat Road, Chaddesden Lane and elsewhere get rezoned? While government ministers and their officials take a nice long break, those who are in a most dreadful situation wait upon their leisure. Not the most civilised or humane of approaches for a government to take. Perhaps now the Prime Minister will exercise leadership and explain exactly what has to be done, how long it will take, and when it will be finished.

(click for photographs)

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Support availability for the holiday period

During the Christmas shut-down period some support services will still be available if required. The following is from the CERA web site, and a list of support services is available here.  
Canterbury Support Line
The Canterbury Support Line for services such as counselling, accommodation assistance, financial assistance, legal services or health services will be available to callers over the Christmas period from 8.30am to 11.00pm seven days a week on 0800 777 846.
Temporary Accommodation
The Temporary Accommodation Service will be available on normal working days throughout the Christmas and New Year period. Their contact number is 0800 673 227. For accommodation assistance on other days people can go to or call 0800 777 846.
Government Helpline
The 0800 Government Helpline (0800 77 99 97) is closed on the statutory holidays. The normal operating hours are 7.00am to 6.00pm weekdays, and 8.00am to 1.00pm Saturday.
Housing New Zealand
Housing New Zealand is continuing to work with its tenants in the red zone to make their eventual shift to other accommodation as smooth as possible.
Over the Christmas/New year period the Corporation’s Contact Centre 0800 801 601 will be open 24/7 for any urgent inquiries. The Papanui Neighbourhood Unit at 6 Restell St and Linwood Community Link at 154 Aldwins Rd will also be open everyday except for the statutory holidays (Christmas Day, Boxing Day and January 2 and 3).
Anyone who would like their eligibility for state housing assessed is welcome to contact Housing New Zealand at any time.
Earthquake Assistance Centres
The Earthquake Assistance Centre at the Avondale Golf Club on the Corner of Breezes and Wainoni Roads will close at Midday on 23 December 2011 and reopen at 10am on 4 January 2012.
The Kaiapoi Earthquake Hub at 11 Cass Street will close at 5pm on 22 December 2011 and reopen at 9am on Wednesday 4 January 2012.
Work and Income
Work and Income are open every day, except the statutory days, over Christmas and New Year.
Work and Income and Community Link service centres are open for business from Monday to Friday 8:30am–5pm, Wednesday 9:30am–5pm. To find the office nearest to you visit
You don’t need to be on a benefit to get help from Work and Income. If you’re not sure what you may be eligible for please visit or phone 0800 559 009 or visit a service centre.
Specialist mental health services
In a psychiatric emergency call Psychiatric Emergency Services on 03 364 0482 or 0800 920 092. In all other emergencies call 111.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

On being Green - technical categories and your property.

This week CERA sent Green-Blue TC3 properties a booklet called Technical categories and your property. The booklet can be downloaded as a PDF from here.

Over 12 pages the booklet endeavours to take away the mystery of what the categories mean, especially the Green-Blue TC3 category. This is done under the following headings:
  • Technical categories explained
  • Claim process flow chart
  • Technical categories and EQC
  • Next steps for your insurance claim
  • Infrastructure and consenting
Does it work to demystify the land categories? For me - not much. The reasons are:

Some of the wording used is more likely to cause confusion than reduce it.
  • On page 2 the introduction contains the following "Land in the green zone is generally considered suitable for residential construction ..." What does "generally" mean? Can it be inferred that some Green zoned sections will at some stage be deemed unsuitable for rebuilding? If so, a reference to where the explanatory information can be found is essential. 
  • On page 6, second paragraph, there is the following: "EQC covers damage to a residential building up to the EQC building claim cap (which is generally $100,000 plus GST per event)." It is repeated again in the EQC section on page 6.  What options does the word "generally" offer?
Relatively new decisions on who will do what are not explained. 
  • On page 4 the seventh step of the flowchart introduces the concept that EQC will undertake rebuilds of houses "Under cap". When was that decided, and where can more information about it be found? The explanatory note to that part of the flowchart (page 5) raises the concept of managing your own rebuild. Where is the information about values, options, processes, cash payments, accredited builders etc?  
Some of the important ideas and procedures aren't fully explained.
  • On page 7 the last bullet point includes the following: "If EQC determines remediation of your land is uneconomic, it will cash settle for the amount of EQC’s maximum liability. The owner retains ownership of the land ..." What options are there for broken land? Has EQC created a tiny Red Zone? What are the obligations and consequences for the land owner?
  • Throughout the document there are comments along the line "This means site-specific deep geotechnical investigation and specific engineering foundation design must be carried out." (from page 3). What are these activities, what do they do, who does them, how? A reference to where more information can be found is important to understanding what is involved. It shouldn't be hard to provide this because the next sentence says: " Site-specific engineering foundation design is commonplace in many parts of New Zealand."
The booklet is a valiant attempt to help understand what the technical categories mean, and how land owners will be affected. It fails through trying too hard to cover a lot of territory with too little information. Perhaps the use of both a suitable technical writer and editor might help.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Release of EQC and Fletchers repair time frames

EQC have today released information on the time frames for repair work to be undertaken by Fletchers/EQR. The main target for the Canterbury Home Repair Programme is 80 percent of homes in the managed repair programme completed by 2014.

Fletchers/EQR have stated:
“Within this target (80%), EQC will prioritise the worst damaged homes – those with over $50,000 worth of damage. We hope to have these completed by mid-2013, but it will depend on the number of properties which ultimately fall into this category. We will update our customers on progress against this target as we go."
The EQC media release is here and that of Fletchers/EQR here.

There is no hard information yet about how decisions will be made, and whether priority will also be assessed in terms of need ( e.g. health & well being, age, infants and young children, how long people have been out of their homes or living in damaged homes). So far costs and efficiencies appear to be the primary criteria (although see Fletcher/EQR's meadia release here). As prioritising is not covered in the EQC Act or insurance policies there would seem to be room to manoeuvre. Granted insurers and re-insurers will want to minimise costs, but the social impact has to be considered. EQC provide a brief overview of how they are currently looking at priorities here.

No mention is made of those cases where rebuilds are involved and EQC are of the view they should be done by Fletchers/EQR.

Also not mentioned is the potentially vexed issue of timetabling work around mutual convenience. Anecdotally the approach to date has been to tell homeowners when they must move out, at times with little prior notice, and pressurise the people to comply. Some time soon there will need to be a discussion over the relative positions of the parties to the EQC contract.

At this early stage there is not much that can be said about what is intended, other than a slight misapprehension that this could become a situation where easy gains and short cuts will be taken throughout the work chain to meet deadlines.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Today's re-zoning announcement and the Orange zones

Details of today's White Zone announcement are on the CERA site here. Residents will need to wait until 4.00pm tomorrow before the landcheck website here will show which properties have been reclassified as Green.

Confirmation has been received that Orange Zone properties will not be re-zoned this year, but remain a top priority. The reason for this is that the remaining Orange zones are the most complex areas to re-zone, and each faces unique geotechnical issues and potential solutions.

As well as identifying and investigating possible land remediation solutions, the Department of Building and Housing is undertaking research on design solutions for house foundations. The findings may or may not provide further options for rebuilding in these areas. The work of the DBH is not expected to be completed until February.