Christchurch businesses register to recover items

Last updated 05:00 12/03/2011
DUMPING GROUND: Rubble from demolished buildings is finding its way to a landfill site in Bottle Lake Forest Park north of New Brighton.
CRAIG SIMCOX/ The Dominion Post
DUMPING GROUND: Rubble from demolished buildings is finding its way to a landfill site in Bottle Lake Forest Park north of New Brighton.

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More than 1500 business owners have now registered to recover their possessions from within the central Christchurch cordon.

But some businesses may have to wait months to go in and collect their belongings.

Canterbury Business Recovery spokeswoman Renee Walker said the red and orange zones in the central city have been divided into 55 smaller zones.

"How many businesses in each zone will vary. The zones are based on blocks. One block might have one business, where another might have 20."

Walker said 1675 businesses had registered so far out of an estimated 6000 businesses within the zones.

Each business owner will be given 48 hours notice of when they will be allowed to enter. The process will take place on a zone-by-zone basis, starting on Monday with the zones where the buildings are deemed the safest.

There is no deadline to register, but Walker said some businesses would be told they cannot enter yet, either because their building has been red-stickered or because another building blocking access to their building has been.

She said for some businesses it may be months before they can retrieve their items.

Businesses will be allowed to take four people and will be given a few hours to collect their belongings.

The process is meant for owners to recover only items essential to the daily running of their businesses.

There is no comprehensive list of what businesses may recover, but Walker said they will not be allowed in to take large items of furniture, for example.

Business owners within the no-access zone bordered by Colombo, Hereford, Madras and Lichfield streets will not be given the chance to enter their businesses yet.

Owner of design company FORM & Hesaco Publishing, Darren Sawyers, said he was "very anxious" about the future as his building was in the no-access zone near the unstable Hotel Grand Chancellor.

"I'd kind of like to go in but I can understand the reasoning behind why I can't," he said.

"At the moment we're in limbo because all our data is in the office. I went to the Art Gallery to see the Civil Defence men and had a talk to them, and they said we won't be able to get in until the Grand Chancellor comes down."

Sawyers said he was not given a time frame but expected it would take "some time".

"We'll wait and see. Hopefully, we'll be able to get back up and running, but we'll be late on a lot of work."

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Photographer Kurt Langer said he was angry it had taken so long to be given the chance to access his building.

"They've done their checks time and again. No-one's died since the earthquake. No-one knows what's happening. Christchurch will go bankrupt," he said.

"I'm trying to make a living and I have to borrow cameras from Auckland. I'm living on charity and I do not like to live on charity because I want to support myself." Langer said he was disappointed with the lack of communication surrounding the process.

"I spend every day making phone calls. They have a website but they don't tell you anything."

Walker said they were doing the best they could.

"The first priority has been securing buildings and making sure the areas are safe to enter. That remains the priority," she said.

"We're only 17 days on from the earthquake, so what we've achieved in that time is good."

- The Press

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