18 Mar 2014

EQC may pay for flood work

9:19 am on 18 March 2014

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says he hopes a decision about what work needs to be done for flood protection in Christchurch will only take months, not years.

Mr Brownlee has confirmed the Earthquake Commission may make a financial contribution to Christchurch City Council's area-wide flood protection work as part of its role in settling residential land damage claims from the Canterbury earthquakes.

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But he told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme the plan was at a very early stage and many details were not yet available.

Mr Brownlee says both he and the council see this work as high priority.

"I would hope it's made as soon as we are confident it's a workable solution.

"I mean I think you are asking me how long is a ball of string. Both the mayor of Christchurch and I have said is that we see this as a high priority. We are not doing anything that would hold up that work progressing at pace.

He says from a political perspective, he encourages thinking about all possibilities because he wants solutions that will endure.

The rules state EQC has the right to decide whether to pay people out for the consequences of land damage or to pay to fix the damage itself.

Mr Brownlee says area-wide protection work for flood-prone homes in Christchurch will be faster than residents going to the commission individually. He says individuals working on their own with EQC to fix their land won't work.

Mr Brownlee says EQC and its engineers, Tonkin and Taylor, are currently identifying properties at an increased risk of flooding due to the earthquakes and this will be completed shortly.

Council drainage manager Mike Gillooly says engineers from both agencies are now working together to find common ground.

He says the flood protection works they're considering include a pumping station at the bottom of the Flockton Basin.

Flockton Basin proposals coming

Council engineers will present the council with long and short term options to prevent flooding in areas such as the Flockton Basin by the end of the week.

Fifty homes were badly flooded is the Flockton Basin, which straddles the suburbs of Mairehau and St Albans, just over a week ago.

One of those flooded, Rose Lennon, says after everything that's happened she doesn't trust the council's wholesale solution and would rather receive an EQC payment to help raise her house above the reach of the flood waters.

Ms Lennon says she's forced to pay a mortgage on a home she can't live in and one her grandchildren can't visit because there's black mould on the ceiling.

Ms Lennon says the protection works will take at least two years, leaving the area vulnerable for a further two winters.

She says if EQC isn't willing to lift her home above the flood waters, then the Government should red zone it.

Ms Lennon says the floods have made it impossible to sell homes in her area for a fair price.

Ms Lennon's home is about to be repaired by EQC for earthquake damage but she says she can't see the point if it's just going to be flooded again.