Time running out for quake claims

Tararua residents are being urged to submit claims for damage from the Eketahuna earthquake before time runs out.

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) has said that after April 22 it will not consider claims relating to the 6.2 magnitude earthquake near Eketahuna on January 20.

EQC said this week it had nearly completed all assessments in the areas nearest the epicentre, where most damage occurred, through Eketahuna, Woodville, Pahiatua and Masterton.

However, Tararua district councillors Shirley Hull, in Pahiatua, and Warren Davidson, in Eketahuna, said yesterday they knew there were people who needed to put in claims but had not yet done so.

"I was talking to some people last night who had damage to their chimney and they hadn't actually contacted EQC," Cr Davidson said.

"They really do need to do so because it's difficult to tell whether it's serious damage or not."

Neither councillor had been approached directly for assistance with submitting claims. Cr Hull attributed this to EQC having a high profile since the Christchurch earthquake, which meant more people were aware of its website and were probably getting information there.

However, she had been talking to people about the deadline. "I've been trying to emphasise that there is a limited time they have to get their applications in," she said.

EQC is holding a three-hour drop-in session at the Tararua District Council offices in Pahiatua on Thursday to help people with their claims.

EQC says it has received a total of 4514 claims related to the earthquake. Of those claims, 1363 were from Palmerston North, 611 from Tararua and 263 from Horowhenua.

Seventy-one per cent of the claims were for damage to buildings only, while buildings and content accounted for 12 per cent, contents only for 10 per cent, building and land for 4 per cent, land only at 2 per cent and building, contents and land for 1 per cent.

National manager of operations Barry Searle said so far more than 138 claims had been resolved and more than $683,000 paid.

Neither Cr Davidson nor Cr Hull knew anyone in their towns who had been paid out.

"I know the EQC staff stayed in the district a couple of weeks and they were meeting with people who had put claims in, and they were responding to those claims," Cr Hull said. "That was only three weeks ago."

Cr Davidson said he had heard about the drop-in session only yesterday, but would encourage people to go.

Cr Hull said it was "a wonderful idea".

"I think anything that gets people the information and the clarity around their situation and how it can be resolved quicker, smoother, easier will be better.

"I think if I was in the situation I would want to have access to the right people at the right time."

Manawatu Standard