EQC calls raise more questions

23:03, Oct 19 2010
Gary Wells
STILL WAITING: Gary Wells, a resident of Courtney Dr, Kaiapoi, has been rung by the EQC but does not know if he can rebuild on his property until he receives the information pack.

The Earthquake Commission is continuing to telephone quake-hit Canterbury residents this morning as around 500 still await the fate of their land and homes.

More than 700 earthquake-hit Canterbury homeowners have been told about the future of their land, but some are concerned about a lack of information on the rebuilding process.

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) started to call Canterbury homeowners with the worst-hit properties yesterday, ahead of the public release of an engineering report on the region's land tomorrow.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the calls had gone "very positively", with the EQC speaking with more than 700 of about 1200 residents with severely damaged properties by last night.

Brownlee said the calls were delayed by an hour by the morning's aftershock, due to concerns about people's emotional states.

Most residents were being told that their land could be remediated, although there were 16 properties "where there has to be a bigger discussion".

Copies of the report, which included detailed information about the remediation and rebuilding process, were being couriered to residents ahead of its public release.

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Brownlee said Cantabrians would need to remain patient, with remediation work to strengthen entire suburbs not expected to start until next year.

"While we're still having this settling-down period with aftershocks, we need to proceed with haste but caution."

He said the calls to homeowners would be completed by tomorrow .

Avonside Dr resident Stephen Crean, whose house was badly damaged in the earthquake, said the call he received from the EQC yesterday had been "pretty much useless".

"The woman couldn't tell me any of the details about what was happening – why are they bothering to ring?"

Avonside resident Angela Wasley said she was still "trying to fill in the blanks" after she received a call.

"I kept asking questions, because there's so much that we still don't know."

Wasley said residents needed more support and advice on how to deal with their insurance companies, as well as other rebuilding issues.

"I don't think we're being given support – we're being given recommendations and general processes, but I've got no idea of where to start."

Kaiapoi resident Gary Wells said he had been rung by the EQC but would not know if he could rebuild on his Courtney Dr property until he received the information pack tomorrow.

Wells said he was confident the land in the badly hit street would be remediated and was determined to return despite a possible two-year wait.

He was told his insurance would cover only 12 months rent on a temporary home, but had since been reassured the entire relocation period would be covered.

Wells said the expected time frame for rebuilding was too long, but he was not considering a permanent move elsewhere.

"It's great with the walkways around here and the river. I love it."

The Press