Kaiapoi, one of the small towns that suffered the worst damage in Saturday’s 7.1 Christchurch earthquake, is said to have been changed forever and “will never be the same” according to the mayor of Waimakariri District, Ron Keating . Away from the hype of the media circus of the Christchurch CBD the true story of the Canterbuy earthquake continues to be told in towns like Kaiapoi.
It’s over 4 days since the quake and Kaiapoi still doesn’t have a safe drinking water supply and its sewerage system is still badly damaged.
In a press release today published on Scoop.co.nz: (emphasis ours)
Kaiapoi Coming to Grips With Damage in Wake of Large Shake Areas Still Without Water and Sewerage Access Restricted to Hundreds of Properties
As aftershocks continue to ripple through Canterbury, the North Canterbury river town of Kaiapoi is coming to terms with the reality, the town will never be the same again.
The town’s infrastructure has been significantly impacted by the 7.1 quake on Saturday and authorities are still trying to restore water and sewerage systems. A number of buildings are currently uninhabitable.
Waimakariri District Mayor, Ron Keating says this earthquake has clearly shaken the community to its core and while there has been a huge and committed response from council staff, contractors, the army and the community itself following the shake, “there is going to be a major change to the future of the town as a result of this event.”
He says it will simply not be possible to repair or replicate some of the existing buildings and facilities that will inevitably be lost. But he adds, “we should not lose sight of the fact that this may also present opportunities to create something new and even better for the town and the community.”
More than two hundred homes in Kaiapoi are impacted. That’s one fifth of the (1,073) residential properties so far assessed for structural or sanitary safety.
Access is restricted to 155 and 50 homes are considered unsafe.
Properties are being labelled with green, yellow and red stickers as they are assessed. Green is safe, red is not, yellow is restricted.
Mayor, Ron Keating, says people should not automatically assume a red sticker is a death sentence, “it does not mean the building is condemned” but that there are issues that need to be addressed before the building is habitable again.
“It is entirely possible and indeed probable the status of some of these properties will change as we are able to help residents make the changes needed to lift any restrictions. This could mean something as basic as providing a portaloo.”
Those people without water and sewerage or who have concerns about the integrity of their homes or are feeling unwell are being encouraged to go to the local welfare centres at the Kaiapoi Rugby Clubrooms in Smith Street, or the Pines Beach Hall.”
However, we know that some people are reluctant to leave their homes unprotected against burglars and looters. Protection for damaged properties was only ever given in the CBD, people further out of town had to safeguard their own possessions.
“The welfare centres can provide food, shelter, water and toilet facilities as well as advice on ways people can return to their homes or other assistance that might be available to them. They are well resourced and staffed and anyone who feels in any way vulnerable shouldn’t hesitate to make their way there.”
The central business district has now reopened, from 7am to 7pm only, but there is still limited access and intermittent closures due to ongoing repair work.
22 commercial buildings are currently considered unsafe and access is restricted to 33 others.
A number of other councils have sent their own assessors to assist and there are now 15 teams on the ground moving from street to street investigating building security. It’s hoped a further 800 properties in the worst affected areas will be assessed by Friday.
While Mayor Keating says “we have been fortunate not to have suffered further significant damage as a result of the continued aftershocks” the aftershocks have hampered efforts to restore services to Kaiapoi and the surrounding communities.
“We are finding even as we repair breaks in supply, new ones are occurring in the aftermath of the ongoing aftershocks.”
Water has been restored to around 85% of the area, though it must be boiled in Kaiapoi, Waikuku, Pines and Kairaki Beaches and Woodend.
About 30 gangs of contractors, supported by council staff, are currently working on problem areas.
There is a potable water tanker at the welfare centre at the Kaiapoi Rugby Football Clubrooms in Smith Street where people can take their own containers for filling.”
One of the most simple and sought after items during this quake has been large capacity water containers, people have scoured shops and hardware stores looking for them. It would not have taken much for the emergency services to have provided containers for people. Something to be considered in the retrospectives perhaps?
“The town’s sewerage scheme has also been badly damaged and sewage is being spilled into the Kaiapoi River. Sewage also has to be manually pumped to trucks.
Reticulation in some areas is so severely damaged the council is warning it will take a long time to repair. In the interim 200 portaloos have been installed for residents use in some of the worst affected areas.
ALL surface water, including the Kaiapoi River, streams and water ponding on streets and properties, and all silt and sand, should be treated as contaminated. This means kayaking, fishing, whitebaiting should be avoided.
Mayor Keating says the effort and commitment by staff, contractors, support agencies, and the community itself has been nothing short of phenomenal.
“Everyone has pulled together to do what they can to help. We are very grateful to all those who have offered assistance.
“The care offered by friends, neighbours and strangers to residents is testament to the community spirit in Kaiapoi. They want to get back on with their lives and they can feel confident we are doing all we can to make that happen as quickly as possible. The reality is it is not going to happen overnight.”
A 7pm to 7am curfew remains in the Kaiapoi town centre, Pines Beach and Kairaki.
A number of homes in Pines Beach have sunk into the ground as a result of liquefaction. A lot of the roads have also been impacted. The recreational oval has been badly damaged, with a number of historical large trees falling down or needing removal. Playground equipment also has to be secured or removed.
Power has now been fully restored to the Kaiapoi area, although around 350 homes are still relying on generators. It will still be some days before the damaged underground electricity network is fully repaired and operational.