Flooding Hits Christchurch, Welfare Centres Open. Insurance Companies to Take a Hit – updated

Union Street flooding

As if the destruction and disruption of the earthquakes isn’t enough, long suffering residents of Christchurch are having to deal with the worst flooding the city has seen for 40 years a century.

“Our homes are insured, our land is insured so why after three years are we still living like this?”

“We’ve got another winter to get through . . . it’s a disgrace.” source

Residents say they are angry that “nothing had been done as a result of similar flooding in the same areas last year.” After last year’s flood the beleaguered Earthquake Commission (EQC ) has said that claims will be settled by the end of the year, that is too long for some residents source.

Last straw and caught out

We were caught out‘ said the city council’s mayor. But residents said Christchurch City Council “knew about the risks but did not respond adequately with sandbags.” The priority for sandbags were businesses that had not been affected by floods before.

The damage caused by this latest flood is likely to be the last straw for some residents. Experts say that the quakes have made the flooding worse because liquefaction, subsidence and uplift posed an enhanced flooding threat to the city.

“Mr Coleman and his family live in Carrick St, Mairehau. He said the road floods nearly every time it rains, but the latest incident had forced him and his wife to starting thinking about moving.

“We’re worried about our health and the water quality, because there was sewage coming up and we worry about it every time it rains.” source

According to the latest reports a cliff has collapsed in Lyttelton, followed by a strong smell of fuel from storage tanks at the port which resulted in evacuations of residents from Brittan and Cressy Terraces.

St Albans

St Albans

Slater Street, Richmond

Slater St, Richmond

from Trademe.co.nz

Unfortunately, some people made a bad situation worse. Was there really any need to create bow waves from doing this?

bow waves

making waves, not very public spirited.

Insurance Concerns

Feelings were understandably running high among weary residents. Three years of living with outstanding repairs to earthquake damage and now this (source Trademe).

feelings running high in Christchurch

feelings running high in Christchurch

Keep up to date with developments on the council’s website, the Rebuild Christchurch FB page or Canterbury Weather Updates FB Page

There is very serious flooding and threats of further flooding out east and with rain expected to persist all night it will continue to be a serious situation.

The Christchurch City Council has opened a welfare centre for people threatened by flood-waters in east Christchurch.

The centre opened at 8.30pm at Mairehau High School, 440 Hills Rd. People are advised to bring their own bedding.

Update: Council responds to flood warning

Christchurch City Council is continuing to coordinate staff and contractors to assist residents in low-
lying areas across the city at risk of potential flooding.

The Council is prepared to respond to weather forecasting that shows the storm will continue throughout the night until around 7am, when it is expected to ease.

High tide is due at 9.05pm, but the Council reassures residents that this is not expect to cause an increase to flood levels.

The Council Civil Defence staff are door-knocking on properties in the Flockton Basin area advising residents of the flood-water levels, the risk to their property and to consider evacuating to protectthemselves and valuables.

Welfare Centre:

The Council Civil Defence team has set-up a Welfare Centre that will be open from 8.30pm at

Mairehau High School, 440 Hills Rd, Mairehau 8052. Residents will be provided with shelter and tea and coffee. Residents are advised to bring their own bedding.

Road closures due to temporary traffic management:

• Ruru Road at the corner of Maces

• Wakefield Avenue at Evans Pass Road

• Marine Parade at Mountbatten Street

• Owles Terrace

• Carrick Street

• Thornton Street

• Harrison Street

Health and safety:

The Council’s Land Drainage and Roading teams have traffic management plans in place and will be working throughout the night to assist residents to help prevent bough wash from vehicles entering houses.

The Council is asking drivers to be extra conscious of the surface flooding and to drive slowly and carefully in affected areas.

It is possible flood-waters on roads and parks may be contaminated, so the Council says to avoid the water where possible or make sure you wash your hands and remove and wash any clothing that gets wet.

For more information please contact:

Mark Doyle

Senior Communications Adviser

Christchurch City Council

Phone: 027 824 8105

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20 thoughts on “Flooding Hits Christchurch, Welfare Centres Open. Insurance Companies to Take a Hit – updated

  1. A relative waited almost 2 years for their insurance to approve house repairs after the quake. This is someone with full insurance, totally legitimate quake damage. The NZ govt shouldn’t have let the insurance companies get away with this.

  2. Read this article about how totally inefficient the govt is…..it is disgusting…..I take my hat off to the man who used to work at the EQC and started his EQC Truth blog….and good that he left NZ for good….to start a new life in Swtzerland….it is the best move.
    I pity those old folks who are so helpless to get help to repair their homes…

  3. Does NZ actually have the resources to restore Christchurch to its pre-quake condition?
    Bureaucratic incompetence aside, perhaps the NZ government just doesn’t have the money.

    • That’s highly likely. What money it does have in investments is probably put aside to cover Wellington. We’re seeing a lot of spin about the rebuild of Christchurch but very little action, after 3 years its starting to look like a scam. Even the minister feels let down by the EQC

      A humiliated Gerry Brownlee has apologised to Labour MPs he sledged over their workrate on behalf of earthquake victims and says he feels let down by EQC.

      The Earthquake Recovery Minister lashed out at Labour after they raised the plight of 85-year-old Dot Boyd, who is still waiting for repairs to her Aranui Home three years on from the Christchurch earthquakes.

      Brownlee confirmed yesterday that he had discovered that Boyd may be the tip of the iceberg after EQC identified a further 85 cases where vulnerable elderly people had been left in limbo while waiting on a decision.

      He had also just learnt that Boyd’s plight was raised eight months ago with EQC by Labour but no action was taken.

      In Parliament on Tuesday, Brownlee labelled Labour MPs “despicable” for organising a photo-op to publicise Boyd’s case rather than raise their concerns with EQC. He also accused Labour’s Christchurch MPs of lodging requests with EQC on just five occasions on behalf of their constituents.

      source

      Of course, the EQC is squealing about its inability to cope, not a great look for a country depending on this organisation to be its major earthquake insurance provider. It can’t even meet the demand for Official Information Requests – 600 currently outstanding.

      Heaven help New Zealand if the Wellington or Alpine faults fail, it will be the only thing that can.

      • The reason for the OIA delays is that EQC has a policy of deliberately withholding information from claimants so that the claimants do not know how EQC is going to screw them. For example, EQC provides a vague scope of works. Consequently, claimants must apply through the OIA to try to obtain basic information about their claim, which takes months to process thanks to the backlog.

        • Sounds very suspicious, surely it can’t be more arduous than printing off a file and placing it in a envelope or attaching it to an email.

          For them to be dragging their heels like this suggests that information may be being redacted, or edited, before being supplied to the client? If it is that sounds highly irregular.

          • You might recall the fight that erupted last year between the EQC Truths blogger and EQC over the spreadsheet posted online from an overseas website. The spreadsheet showed numerous instances where EQC had offered a cash settlement for far less than the amount EQC has allocated in damage.

            Here is one particularly egregious example where EQC offered $8,000 when its own internal figures showed the damage as $80,000.

            http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/rebuilding-christchurch/8516544/Please-explain-couple-tell-EQC

            Of course, Team NZ promptly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars persecuting the whistleblower blogger in court rather than addressing the problems the blogger identified and implementing some of the solution he suggested. The spreadsheet contained no names, yet the media were obsessed with the “privacy breach” rather than the damning revelations contained in the spreadsheet.

            EQC argued that the spreadsheet was “commercially sensitive”, yet in the High Court it stated that it could not calculate the damages. EQC would withhold its costings, precisely so that it could deliberately settle claims for less than their true value and cover up incompetently done assessments. An internal audit showed 30% of assessments contained critical errors, yet EQC buried this information.

          • http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9800569/Brownlee-to-EQC-Please-explain
            You might want to show the second video at the bottom, which shows the full speech of Gerry Brownlee. This video is an excellent encapsulation of the type of bullying that migrants will suffer in the New Zealand workplace or from the authorities if the migrants complain about something that most reasonable people would agree warrants a complaint. I think Brownlee’s pugnacious attitude and ignorance are a toxic mix and straight out of the Third World.

      • Admin,

        Seems markedly different from the way the authorities here in Australia dealt with the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy’s devastation of Darwin 40 years ago. One obvious explanation is relative resources, the other might be far less bureaucracy and opportunities for competing interests–the Federal Government appointed a Major General to oversee (1) the evacuation of people made homeless by the cyclone and (2) the initial rebuilding of the city.

        I’m sure the Kiwis will expect Australia to provide aid in the event of another earthquake, they might even stop Oz- bashing..perhaps.

        • The Aussies did a much better job handling the aftermath of the Brisbane floods compared to the Kiwis. Admittedly, the floods were not on the same scale, but I know the Kiwis would have taken twice as long.

          I made two good Aussie friends when I was in New Zealand. They all complained about the virulent anti-Australia sentiment. It is obvious that many New Zealanders have an inferiority and identity complex against Australians. Whatever flaws Australians might have, they are at least more comfortable with who they are as a country and just friendlier overall, although my Swiss friend in Australia complains he can only befriend expats!

          • There are, of course, other factors to consider, the attitudes and personalities of the immigrants themselves, and some cultural barriers–‘flaws’ are sometimes in the eye of the beholder. There are obviously, in any culture, sub cultures, even moving from one sub culture to another within the same society can be disturbing, as I discovered. So, for those reasons, I would never, ever, recommend that anyone immigrate to Australia.

            As to the anti-Australia sentiment, my guess is that it’s recent, a result of relative economic decline since the UK joined Europe. Like most Australians, I was completely ignorant of the degree and intensity of Oz bashing, it appears almost institutionalised.

          • Why do you think prospective migrants should avoid Australia? I know it is not perfect and some of the aspects I dislike about New Zealand are present in Australia, but it is still a vibrant and relatively pleasant country in other respects. I am just curious why you think the way you do.

          • I realise that my comments could be more explicit, I should have written “because of cultural and personality differences, I wouldn’t take the responsibility, people should do their homework”, not that migrants shouldn’t consider Australia. You’ve expressed your personal dislike to some aspects of Australian society ( I dislike some aspects of Australian society)—for some people culture shock might outweigh any material or lifestyle advantages either Australia or NZ can offer. In my own case I’m sure I couldn’t cope with the apparent level of Oz bashing in NZ, no matter what other advantages migration to NZ could provide.

    • The short answer is that it is a combination of EQC not having the money and the insiders using EQC to enrich themselves. Before the first earthquake, EQC had NZ $5.6 billion in assets, but this was almost entirely in New Zealand government bonds. In short, the government raided the EQC coffers to fund spending. It is difficult to sell large amounts of government bonds for a small country like New Zealand.
      Secondly, the reinsurers are questioning much of what EQC has done, so they are withholding money.

      The insiders working for EQC have also deliberately slowed down the rebuild to get funds into the hands of the preferred contractors, often having incentives to do so. They also exploited the tragedy to hand jobs to unqualified friends, relatives, ex-girlfriends etc.

      Consequently, EQC has been ripping people off and claiming earthquake damage is historical. They have also adopted deficient repair strategies. For example, they fill foundations with epoxy, when in reality the house is an economic write-off. They also have an infamous “engineer” who goes out and claims the damage is historical 99.9% of the time. EQC is also filled with massive internal fraud, but lacks the requisite financial controls for such an organisation.

      In short, the EQC debacle is enough to keep any sensible person away from New Zealand.

      • Sounds like a nightmare for people whose homes and businesses have been ruined by these earthquakes. That the government and the EQC should make things worse is unforgivable. This has been going on for three years, no other developed country has taken this long to repair EQ damage. It’s a disgrace.

        Do you know if there are any class actions pending?

        • You can read a bit more about the Group Action Against EQC. http://www.anthonyharper.co.nz/cms/uploads/Anthony%20Harper%20Media%20Release%20-%2025%20November%202013.pdf

          What is interesting is that the law firm had to find a large group of plaintiffs willing to fork out to NZ $2,000 for the legal feels rather than doing the work pro bono or on contingency. Many of these claimants find themselves financially stretched. For example, some people are paying a mortgage on an unliveable house waiting for EQC or insurers to decide what to do with it whilst simultaneously paying for rental accommodation, often of a substandard quality.

          Similarly, the group just wants the High Court to clarify the correct standard of repair to clarify some ambiguity in the EQC Act. The law firm has no interest in taking punitive steps to punish EQC, but they have certainly raised their profile in the media.

          Many people say that dealing with the nightmarish incompetence from EQC and the insurers was far worse than the earthquakes themselves.

  4. One of the contributory factors is EQC’s failure to meet its statutory obligations to remediate or pay for damaged land. Many properties in the affected areas sunk during the earthquakes to such an extent that it increased the risk of flooding to an unacceptably high level. Rather than just paying people the market value of their properties and allow them to rebuild elsewhere, EQC tried to save money by falsely and disingenuously claiming that the land damage was irrelevant.

    This is typical Kiwi parsimony and stinginess causing the squandering of more resources and avoidable suffering than if EQC had just done things correctly at the outset. Prospective migrants considering a move to New Zealand should really consider the mentality of the bogans in power before they make the costly and often unalterable decision to move to New Zealand.

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