When in need of help

01:37, Sep 06 2010

I, like most of you I imagine, spent most of this past weekend in a "Pinch me, did that really just happen?" state of mind after the huge quake in Canterbury.  

I woke up to the quake when it struck and once I saw on Twitter that it was also felt in Dunedin, I knew dreams of my Saturday morning sleep-in were gone and I went in to work while it was still dark.

After a super long day looking through the hundreds of photos, hearing incredible stories of near-misses and being utterly amazed that it appeared there were no fatalities, I came home and had a look at my situation. 

Did I have a survival kit? Nope. Any spare water? Nup. Even the details of my property manager? Er, no.

Despite living arguably on the very edge of the Shaky Isles, I am woefully prepared for an emergency.

Despite spending time at the Wellington Emergency Office, doing profiles on the head of Civil Defence in my city and seeing, quite graphically, what our council is prepared for (fatalities of more than 800, extensive damage etc), it still wasn't enough to prompt me to do something about it.

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It made me wonder though about the price of safety and help.

It didn't take long for reports to emerge about people who were affected by the quake, but weren't insured.

Now I can sympathise with them because life isn't black and white, and sometimes things happen right in the middle of other things. 

(For example I'd heard of someone who had bought a house in Chch the day before the quake - I wondered if they had arranged insurance? Imagine if it came down to a simple 24 hour delay between being covered or not.) 

Insurance, it seems, can be one of the things that people mean to arrange as soon as they buy a new house or new car, but mother nature doesn't work on that schedule.

Anyway, apparently about 10 per cent of people in the region did not have insurance. 

The government is apparently thinking about bailing them out to an extent which in turn means a larger bill footed by the taxpayers.

I'm interested to know how you feel about this.

Many who have insurance all sorted and are covered by the Earthquake Commission (which people with private insurance can claim up to $100,000 for buildings and $20,000 for contents) are probably likely to baulk at suggestions that we should help out people who haven't got insurance.

But is that really who we are? In times when the proverbial hits the fan, do we really want to kick those who are already down? Say 'Tough luck buddy, serves you right for slacking'? Are we that tight (probably not the right word, but you know what I mean) that we don't actually want to help people who are less fortunate? Or do you believe we make our own fortunes - so it's up to us to protect it and have it as our own?

We dig deep when disasters happen overseas by gifting money, clothes and items. Is it that different to give the uninsured a hand up in times of extreme need? Or do you seriously believe they should suffer?

On a side note, are you like me in the fact that you haven't really, seriously planned for an emergency event?

Has the Canterbury quake prompted you to become more prepared? How much should one spend on an emergency pack? Sounds like you could go rather crazy with all the cool survival stuff that's out there now!

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