Two long years in Christchurch
Tue, 04 Sep 2012 6:01p.m.
By Annabelle Tukia
Pam Atkinson loved her peaceful cul-de-sac in Christchurch's Horseshoe Lake suburb, but two years on since the September quake and her neighbourhood has been decimated.
Her friends have all moved away.
Living in the red zone has taken its toll. There are the strange cars at night, and the fear of looters. Ms Atkinson has lost count the number of times she has been without power, water, and even sewerage.
“My generation didn't go through the war – I used to think we were really lucky, but we're now being tested,” she says.
In 2010 Christchurch’s world was turned upside down when a magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocked the region. Two people were seriously injured and hundreds of buildings damaged beyond repair.
Since then there have been over 11,000 aftershocks, and over 50 of those have measured 5 or more on the Richter scale.
Now two years on, the quakes are dying down.
“A year ago they were probably getting one or two felt earthquakes every day, now if they get maybe one or two in a week - that’s kind of where we're at now,” says GNS scientist Dr John Risteau.
Courtenay Dr in Kaiapoi was badly hit in the September shake. Steve and Sandra Wright's home has been demolished, and they have been waiting two years for a rebuild.
Now, in less than a month, they will move into their new home at Sovereign Palms, two kilometres up the road.
“I thought at the time, ‘Two years, it’s going to be like a lifetime.’ Having gone through it, it felt like a long time but having got to the end of it now you think, ‘Where's that two years gone?’” says Ms Wright.
But it’s been a long two years for Ms Atkinson, who is still waiting to be allowed to rebuild somewhere else and is worried she’s going to be the last one left in her street.
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4/09/2012 6:48:15 p.m.
I'm so pleased for the Wrights. Unfortunately they would be in the minority. People around the rest of NZ keep asking me - why don't you simply leave. It's the process. First of all I'm still fighting for my contents payout from State Insurance. Then, although my house is a rebuild, my insurer keeps saying that they are waiting for the EQC on a land report before they can give me my options. These are - take an indemnity payout (half the value of my home), rebuild elsewhere or rebuild on the same site. Obviously I have to go with the rebuild options, but they are talking YEARS before I can get started - so much infighting between the EQC and State Insurance and nothing is going smoothly. I have already asked State, why they simply can't calculate what my rebuild would cost and allow me to purchase an existing home in NZ for the same dollars. Their answer - "oh, I'm afraid you can't do that, it's not in your policy". In reality rebuilding on my land will cost State Insurance at least another $150K - $200K more as my foundations on the hill will have to go deeper (more drilling/blasting etc, as well as removal of all the loose 'fill' on my property). Thousands of people would take this option if it was available - it isn't. So we have to wait for that rebuild. Having said that, I'm constantly reminded by State that "there's always that indemnity value offer" - I really think they are slowing down the process on purpose.
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