Christchurch home 'fills like sink'

CHARLES ANDERSON AND OLIVIA CARVILLE
Last updated 11:00 21/04/2014
Rose and Stephen Lennon
CHARLES ANDERSON/FAIRFAX NZ
SEVENTH FLOOD: Flockton Basin residents Rose and Stephen Lennon assess the damage to their belongings, which they were about to move from their garage after the March flood when the weekend’s rain flooded their home again. 

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Stephen and Rose Lennon ran out of time.

After the last floods in March forced them from their home on Christchurch's Carrick Street, they moved all their belongings into their garage.

They were going to get a container to store it while repairs were done on the house they have lived in for the last eight years, but then the rain came again.

Yesterday they returned to find all their belongings destroyed.

"It was probably salvageable but it probably isn't any more," Stephen Lennon said.

Among the losses were lounge suites, drawers and beds. The underneath of their home was filled with damp silt.

It was the seventh time they have had such flooding.

"We fill up like a sink here," Rose Lennon said.

"But this was just a normal couple of days' rain. It comes like a torrent down the driveway."

The Lennons feel they have no options.

"The flood remediation . . . that's great but it's two years away," Stephen Lennon said. "We can't live like this for two years."

Their home is due to have repairs in May, for earthquake and flood damage, but he wondered what the point was.

"It's almost like 'why?' Because we are going to keep flooding again."

He wanted the Government to step in and say living in Flockton was as bad as the quake-damaged red zone.

"You can rebuild on this land but is this any way to live?"

His insurance company had been helpful but there were people on the street who now had a $10,000 excess for flood damage.

The couple have been living in an apartment and Stephen Lennon believed there should be an allowance for homeowners to move out of their houses for the two years it would take for an engineering solution.

He also wondered how long it would be before insurance companies said the flooding was no longer "unforeseen".

NO QUICK FIX FOR FLOODING VICTIMS

Christchurch's political leaders cannot promise any quick fixes for residents fed up with the repeated flooding of their properties.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said yesterday the latest round of flooding was frustrating and solving the problem was a top priority.

Houses in the Flockton basin, Heathcote River area and Lyttelton were again submerged in knee-deep water after Friday's wild storm - the second time the areas have flooded in the past six weeks. 

Christchurch City Council has two possible engineering solutions for the worst-hit area of Flockton basin - either widening and deepening Dudley Creek or installing pump stations.

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Both options would cost more than $50million and take more than two years to implement.

Weary residents, some of whom have been flooded out of their homes up to five times since the earthquakes, said two years was too long to wait. Dalziel agreed.

However, she could only promise that by Thursday the council would have a timeline for the initial decision-making process.

''I want all the options on the table so we can consider them all. This isn't straightforward, it is highly complex and I have literally got officials within council working night and day to try and find all possible solutions.''

This could result in a range of different options for affected homeowners, such as lifting the floor levels of some homes and retreating in other areas.

Flooded residents had asked the council about potentially red-zoning their homes.

Dalziel said the council did not have the power to do so.

Under the Public Works Act, the council only has the power to compulsorily acquire the properties.

When the Government red-zoned homes after the quakes, there was no criteria to include increased vulnerability to flooding, she said.

However, the Earthquake Commission (EQC) was now measuring that factor.

''I am not lobbying the Government to red-zone these homes but now EQC is including increased vulnerability to flood risk as a measure of land damage and perhaps [the Government] would consider this also.

"Now would be the right time to ask them to do that,'' Dalziel said.

Brownlee told The Press yesterday that Christchurch's flooding problems were in the council's hands.

The Government was willing to help hasten regulatory processes and ''explore cost sharing'' in areas where flooding had been exacerbated by the quakes, in order to speed up the work.

For identifying appropriate solutions and getting the work started, ''the ball is in the council's court'', he said.

''As yet we have seen no formal proposals from the council on how or when this work might take place, nor how much it would cost,'' Brownlee said.

''I do, however, see reaching a decision about flood mitigation proposals as a priority, and it's this that needs to be understood and settled ahead of any talk of retreat or red zoning.''

- Fairfax Media

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