Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition three
Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition three
The Labour Party's Christchurch electorate MPs, Clayton Cosgrove (Waimakariri), Ruth Dyson (Port Hills), Lianne Dalziel (Christchurch East) and Brendon Burns (Christchurch Central) have started a regular bulletin to keep people in their electorates and media informed about what is happening at grass roots level.
Many constituents have told me over the weekend how totally shocked they are by the pictures coming out of Japan. If anyone understands what Japanese people are going through, it is the people of Canterbury, even if not on the scale of what's happening there. Today I am conducting a series of clinics in my mobile bus, and visiting schools that are opening to see if they have what they need. I am writing to the Mayor today, on behalf of my electorate and my colleagues' electorates, about the possibility of a rent freeze on council-owned properties.
A number of these are in a bad way, and people are paying rent while they can't live in them. I am also attending a meeting of Kaiapoi businesses today focused on reconstruction, and what impediments are in their way. I will also be contacting the Ministry of Education to discuss what arrangements are in place for schools that are now effectively co-ed, and to discuss the installation of temporary tanks as the long-term use of portaloos is no longer satisfactory.
Over the weekend my electorate office coordinated door knocking around city council and Housing New Zealand homes across Christchurch. We were able to supply food parcels, water and register issues such as broken hot water cylinders. Some constituents were upset that late fees were being charged by international organisations such as Visa as a result of unpaid bills due to undelivered mail.
I intend to inform organisations charging late fees of the situation in Christchurch--- if perhaps it has not been fully released. I have confirmed a meeting for Lyttelton business owners next Monday at midday which comes as a relief to many who are still without access to their businesses. More generally, Red Cross forms and work and income forms are in short supply as the demand has been so high. People who never expected to need assistance are suddenly in a position where they need that helping hand. The services these organisations are providing are immediate and much appreciated. Tonight Lianne Dalziel and I will attend the memorial service at Kings College for the students and staff who lost, or are presumed to have lost, their lives in the quake.
On Saturday I met with a local GP to have a serious discussion about the immediate and on-going health needs of constituents. At the moment we are still in the response phase but looking forward we will need to provide on-going support services. I've written a paper for the Christchurch welfare planning group that is meeting today on these issues. There is still too little information available on chemical toilets and a lack of common sense on the allocation of portaloos. You can see the logistical reality people face in maintaining these toilets on my Facebook page where I am pictured emptying my own chemical toilet: http://on.fb.me/hCFYUz. There are some serious hygiene issues and while we need to stay positive, the situation remains urgent. I also had the good fortune of meeting with the Earthquake Commission's Rapid Assessment Team on Saturday who came to my property in Bexley to survey damage.
The team are using a 'system of triage' to categorise residential homes giving families certainty as to what they can expect in coming months. Today rapid assessment teams will be visiting Westhaven, Shirley, New Brighton, Woolston, Richmond, Phillipstown, Linwood and Ferrymead. All the information about the way in which the EQC are categorising homes is detailed in their recent release: http://canterbury.eqc.govt.nz/releases/110311. On Sunday I spoke at two church services at the Spreydon Baptist Church passing on gratitude from Christchurch East for all the support they have received from the wider Christchurch community.
I'll be meeting
the Civil Defence controller this morning with businesses
which are concerned about the need to shore up buildings in
the CBD. This afternoon I am having my fourth meeting with
Avonside constituents to discuss progress on the restoration
of services and other issues, and this afternoon I will be
taking my caravan to Papanui for my first visit to that part
of the electorate.
There are a number of specific issues I am following up, including a report of a family living in a garage in Linwood, and a number of cases where parents are confused or annoyed about decisions concerning their children changing schools. I will also be contacting the council to discuss the removal of rubble. Individual homeowners have been told they can take their own rubble, such as bricks from chimneys, away, but this is not practical for many people, particularly elderly people. People need to be assured the council also has a process for taking rubble away itself.