Hundreds of Christchurch homes have become more vulnerable to flooding following the earthquakes.
More than three months after flooding forced Flockton residents from their homes many still feel like they have no voice. They have heard proposals from council about short term and long term options to solve the persistent flooding in their neighbourhood. But many say they have no idea what it means for their individual properties - some of which have been gutted.
Flockton residents went to a meeting last night for an update on progress in the area. Most of them did not expect much action.
The Christchurch City Council identified almost 1000 properties in greater Christchurch that had been significantly affected by flooding since the earthquakes - included in that number were 56 properties where there had been flooding inside the house more than twice, 451 which had suffered flooding below floor level more than twice, and 487 where access had been compromised by flooding on two or more occasions.
Many of these are in what has become known as the Flockton Basin - an area close to where four water sources converge through a narrow channel. When it rains heavily there is nowhere for water to go but into the streets and, more often than not, into and underneath residents' homes.
The Earthquake Commission (EQC) now wants to determine how much flood-prone Christchurch properties have dropped in value and settle claims for that amount.
EQC has said there were two options for settling these claims - one would leave the homeowner out of pocket and with uninsured land, and the other would compensate homeowners for the loss of value to their properties because of increased flood risk.
The preferred option is using a loss of value system but because this form of settlement has never been tested, EQC has asked the High Court to rule on whether it is legal.
A group of Flockton residents led by Jo Byrne have also sought legal representation in these proceedings.
''We just want to make sure our voice is heard,'' Byrne said.
THE VOICES OF FLOCKTON
Rose Lennon, Carrick St
It started raining quite severely and the water started coming up from the road and we tried to sandbag everything especially the doorway. As the day and night progressed it just kept filling up.
Generally in the past we have had it to the floor board level and carpet was damp but this time we knew were going to be in trouble.
I thought 'what do we do now do we continue to pick things up in case it did?'
It started getting worse. It was unbelievable; the water just started oozing out from the floor, from the walls. We thought 'bugger it we will go to bed'. I could hear the rain coming down and drip dripping and next thing my feet were in water.
The problem is that it's contaminated water through the house. We have very little of our house contents left. The house is pretty much unliveable.
At first it was disheartening, emotionally draining - just the whole magnitude of it. We have gone through a few earthquakes and been able to come back in but this is a whole different ball game. It's not our home anymore; we don't feel like it's our home.
I can't see where things are going to go - what our future is. We have two months left of our accommodation allowance - after that it is going to cost us big time.
This was the hub of my family. That environment has gone - it's actually quite soul destroying this whole situation.
There are all these concerns that we should not have to worry about but this is our livelihood now. Council have got a big job and probably they been doing very well behind the scenes but as a human being living in this station I don't feel like they have helped us.
Hamish Griffen and Leila Chrystall, Carrick St
Hamish: I had picked up a lot of stuff and put it on beds but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would get inside but you just lift things up and think it's not going to be as what it has been. The water started coming up the road and driveway, up and up.
It got to about 6am and it was still raining pretty hard and I told Leila and Greer to go. Every time it floods I keep an eye on the levels. I was pretty much up all night checking it. Right up to 4am I thought we would be fine. It got to 5.30am and lifted up the manhole and water just came all inside.
Then water started coming through the carpet at the front of the house. Within an hour you were splashing around. I was probably in shock, I was tired anyway. It was cold and wet - at the time I was like 'what can you do, there is nothing we can physically do'.
Leila: It's awful I hate coming back here now. That morning I rung Hamish and he told me it had come inside and I just felt sick. Your home is ruined you have nowhere to go.
When I saw it was just disbelief - it's just a shell now. All of that hard work and effort and money we have put into the place and for what? I can appreciate these things take time but in saying that they have all those individual landowners they need to Walk to around Dudley Creek. That's going to take a long time.
Council needs to meet with us one on one. Projects always take longer than what they say and it will just leave us lingering. We really want to know what it's going to mean for us in the short term. We want to know our specific options. We have got to start thinking about the future and we are just in limbo - we don't even know where we are going to be living in October.
Pamela Wilkinson, Flockton St
I was ready to push to get the house done but I can't do that anymore. What's the point? It's frightening really but Civil Defence said to me if there are any changes during the night we will tap on the window.
The water was right up to the lip of my veranda and another two inches it would have come up through the floorboards. All my insulation has had it. I had that done a few years go and my garage and my sleep out have had more than 12 inches of water. It soaked all up the walls. It all has to be redone - it's covered in mould. I think under the floor will be the same.
The pumping out of water and the widening of the creek are good but council are useless right now. I went to do a survey with the council and they had two temporary measures - one was to put the house on stilts the other was to wrap the bottom of the houses. It won't get in but that still doesn't help the garage or the sleep out. I filled two skips out of that. Stuff I had already packed up because we will have to get out of the house for at least three months when the EQC people come. What's left is what's in there. The garage was full. It was disastrous. I don't dare thinking about it. Everything is gone. I haven't even estimated how much stuff has gone. If they the are saying it's two years before we can start - that's five years, that's a long time. You can't make any plans.
I can't do any decorating what the hell's the point? I would have had it done by now but your hands are tied. It's just frustrating. I want to stay. I love this house.
Robyn Simpson, Flockton St
In March the backyard flooded - and it went right through the garage and the sleep out and then it rose above the concrete foundations. It was probably the height of our joists that stopped it coming in the house. But just to watch it you are thinking is it going to come in?
It will be great if the solutions work but we still have the problem of access and health problems. We would hate to think what the under of our house is like. It's just more stress in our lives. Two years is too long. People who loved living here are just saying ''Get it fixed and we are out of here''. This community is wonderful; it was perfect until three and a quarter years ago.
Jane Rooney, Francis Ave
In one way we feel lucky because our house is so high off the ground we didn't get water inside but just waiting for the rain to stop and seeing how high it was rising, it was pretty stressful. It came up to just the underside of the floor joists.
The water didn't go inside but I lay in bed that night, listening to it trickle in through the vents. There was 30 cm or more of water under the floor and there are still puddles there now. It's just not a healthy way to live. Not only that but you are trapped inside and you can't go out.
For the people who are out of their homes, they have to be given some options for accommodation because some of them really don't have a place to live. The council has to get on with the temporary remediation works. While we wait our lives are on hold.
But it's not just the council that has to act. EQC, Cera and the insurers also need to be involved in this process because this is an earthquake problem. We flood because our land has dropped 550mm as a result of the earthquakes. We need to get our house fixed and it needs to be raised so the risk of water getting into the house is reduced. But at the moment no-one wants to do that.
And people in the neighbourhood have had repairs done with this really important problem just being ignored. We are living in limbo because no-one is standing up to take responsibility or giving us enough information to make an informed decision. How can EQC expect anyone to go ahead with getting their house repaired without this knowledge?
We don't know yet if our land claim is going to be settled fairly and we don't know what the result of any settlement will be on the future insurability of our land and house.
Alison Naylor, Francis Ave
I shifted out at the end of March had one lot of flooding in June last year and every time after that the land would flood. In March it came in five and half inches right through out. Insurance came round and this is the result. I now can no longer live here. I'm waiting on some decisions from the engineers and hopefully soon I will have an answer.
The one that I like best of all is to walk away completely from it all and start somewhere else fresh.
I just want to burst into tears when I see it. I come back and puddle around in the garden but that's not the same. It's not the place I bought. Actually I thought I would be here for 30 years but it doesn't look like that now. I'm staying with nice people but that's not home.
Every time it rains the water dumps. If I stayed here the insurance would go sky high. All I want them to do is red zone it.
It could be five years by the time they get round to doing anything and I will be nearly ready for a rest home by then. I'm not exactly a spring chicken. I don't intend to be living with people. That's why I bought a house.
I don't feel like I'm instilled with any hope. I feel like they still don't know what to do. I guess they can't make that decision until the engineers have been there - I can understand that but the options are crazy.
Raise the house? I still won't be able to get out if it floods. I can't keep ringing work and saying that I can't come. They are going to get sick of that.
I don't really see where I'm going. I don't think I will get any clear answers until the engineers look at it properly.
I'd like closure on it. I don't know where I'm going to go or where I'm going to be able to buy. Somewhere where there will be no creek - a stable piece of land.
INTERACTIVE MAP: FLOCKTON VIDEOS
- The Press
The lower drink-driving limits from December are:Related story: Drink-drive limits lowered