Another Severe Aftershock, Kaikoura Never Got its Glorious Summer. Winter of Discontent Draws In.

recent-kaikoura-quake

Seismically active. The severe quake was 3.5 hours ago, just one of many recent quakes in the region

The Kaikoura earthquake aftershock series continued just after 8 am today, with a severe, shallow quake 20 km south west of Cheviot.

The 12 km deep quake was rated as magnitude 5.2 and was felt from Auckland to Invercargill.

Scientists predict that there is still a probability that the M7.8 Kaikoura aftershocks will produce another earthquake in the M6.0-6.9 range (18% chance of one within the next month) and that people need to be prepared for earthquakes as they will go on for years to come.

It is this continued shaking, and the damage caused by the M7.8 quake late last year, that continues to affect Kaikoura residents and tourists.

Today’s regional power cut, affecting 50,000 people, won’t have helped matters either. It was caused by a frequency event: i.e. when power drops below its normal frequency the system starts to disconnect customers to protect itself. ‘Rather like government earthquake aid’ you may think?

In a Marlborough Express editorial today it was evident that Kaikoura missed out on its ‘glorious summer’ this year and is faced with a ‘winter of discontent’. Summer is when the locals do much of their trading, building up a buffer of reserves from the tourism industry to see them through the lean winter months.

Slips to the south of the township have been cleared but the the main highway to Blenheim is still munted, much to the disgust of the locals. Kaikoura is still the longest cul de sac in New Zealand.

Earth movements aren’t the only aftershocks to affect Kaikoura

kaikoura-3-months-on

Government earthquake relief for Kaikoura appears to have been as shallow as the latest aftershock, and meager at best. What help there has been is likely to end soon. There appears to be no urgency to repair SH1 and the road is unlikely to open before Christmas 2017.

The wage subsidy is to be extended for another eight weeks, although it will be at a lower rate than the previous two installments. For the first fours weeks eligible businesses will be able to have $375/week for each full time worker, after four weeks it drops to $250 a week.

Lyznette Burrman, co-owner of Kaikoura Encounter, told the Kaikoura Star there was still a shortfall in visitor numbers:

“What’s going to fix the business downturn here is customers, and the highway to the north is a big part of that as well as the harbour being restored”

According to the Marlborough Express editorial the pot of money set aside for Kaikoura’s employers has almost dried-up. After the current round of assistance ends there will be no more extensions. After this ‘frequency event’ people in the township will be left to fend for themselves. These are “desperate times for Kaikoura”.

After the first earthquake

The Government quickly stepped in and set up an earthquake support package to keep businesses afloat, for eight weeks. Although grateful for the handout, people in Kaikoura knew this was never going to be enough.

The relief package, to pay staff wages, was extended for another eight weeks and, earlier this week, it was extended again.

The Government has now set aside $17.5 million to help quake-stricken businesses, but $15m of that has already gone and it’s not even winter yet.

Unfortunately, when they announced the latest extension this week, Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley also said that was the end of it – no more extensions…

These are desperate times for Kaikoura, with real fears many won’t make it through their ‘winter of discontent’ to bask in another ‘glorious summer’.

Now a mutiny is forecast over the pace of repairs to SH1. As the six long years of the Christchurch earthquake recovery (forecast to take at least another 4 years) has demonstrated, progress in New Zealand moves at snail pace and stops frequently.

Kaikoura’s councillors echoed the sentiments of their community recently when they expressed their frustration at the slow progress with repairs to SH1. Apparently, road workers are being moved in and out of Blenheim and there is no camp at Clarence.

Contractors are working standard 8am -5pm days, despite the long daylight hours. By the time they’ve finished most of Kaikoura’s traders may have gone out of business.

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