Cunliffe 'angry' at latest heartache

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 08/03/2014

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Angry and tired residents in flood-hit St Albans and Mairehau want a halt on all earthquake repairs until they know about the future viability of their land.

They say money is being wasted on home repairs which fail to address the increased flood risk to the Flockton Basin properties.

Earthquake repairs had already been completed on some properties inundated with stormwater, meaning more insurance claims.

On Flockton St, 77-year-old Pamela Wilkinson "can't take much more". She had packed all her belongings into her garage in preparation for quake repairs but this week's flooding soaked through the cardboard boxes.

An Earthquake Commission assessor went through her house and "tells me my house is still repairable and they won't touch the foundations", she said.

She begged Labour Party leader David Cunliffe, who spent time with homeowners in the Flockton Basin yesterday, for answers.

EQC and insurance companies needed to stop work until "all the information we need is on the table", she said.

Phillipstown School principal Tony Simpson said his Flockton St home for 13 years never flooded before the February 2011 earthquake.

Simpson and his wife Robyn have used toilet paper stuck to their driveway as a result of flooding and a water-damaged garage.

The carpet in their sleepout was replaced as part of quake repairs four months ago but would "now be ripped up again".

"It's just a waste of time and money . . . everyone has had enough," Simpson said.

Cunliffe said it was "not exactly rocket science to see the effect of the earthquakes on this land".

The more he heard about the city's plight, "the more angry I get". "I've had a gutsful and I don't live here," he told residents.

Carrick St resident Jo Byrne yesterday packed up her family's belongings because "we have totally had enough".

Her street had flooded numerous times since the February 2011 earthquake, her home had been flooded twice and she had evacuated four times.

"We're going and we're not coming back . . . I can't bring my children back to this house.

"EQC needs to stop work in this neighbourhood and take a step back and see what they can do to fix things," she said.

In Lyttelton, Cunliffe spoke to residents before telling media he was "both heartbroken and impressed by the situation and the response" in the port town. The community had generated its own response to the earthquakes and now to the floods, he said.

Cunliffe urged the Christchurch City Council and the Government to stop "passing the buck" and nut out long-term solutions to land issues.

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POLITICIANS: WHAT THEY SAY ON FLOODING

Politicians on solutions for Christchurch's flood-prone land:

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has dodged giving a definitive answer on whether red-zoning of flood-prone land is a possibility.

He was reluctant to say whether red-zoning properties in the Flockton basin was an option the government was considering.

Green Party MP Eugenie Sage has called on the Government to make a voluntary "blue-zone" offer to purchase the houses of all those residents affected by persistent flooding.

Sage said it would cost up to $140 million but would give affected homeowners the chance to get on with their lives.

Christchurch City councillor Pauline Cotter, who represents the Shirley-Papanui ward, said those people whose homes have repeatedly flooded should be offered assistance to move out until the planned flood-protection work was done.

"They have lost all their equity; they can't sell, they can't move."

Labour leader David Cunliffe said it did not take "a PhD to see that the land has sunk" in some areas of the city.

Once more information about the land was available, Labour would consult with homeowners about the viability of continued occupation of their homes.

Cunliffe said a voluntary buyout scheme was among the options.

- The Press

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