I can’t really call it a “happy” anniversary, but two years ago today, in the small hours of the morning, Christchurch was hammered by the first and biggest (though not the most destructive) of the quakes. I happened to be in the city, where I grew up, and that is a night that I will never forget.
I heard via RNZ this morning that emergency response planners are meeting to analyse how the event was handled, and learn lessons from the future. From my point of view on the ground the immediate emergency response seemed adequate, both on this occasion, and in the days immediately following the February 2011 quake.
What has not in any way been adequate is the response of the insurance industry. I have heard very very few stories of satisfactory insurance outcomes, and many of endless delay and frustration. I shudder to think of what would be happening without the massive government intervention in the forms of the EQC and the government red-zone buyout package.
Having said that, EQC needs to lift its game as well. From Stuff’s anniversary coverage:
Exactly two years on, half the city’s quake-hit homeowners are unhappy with the Earthquake Commission’s performance.
The Press has commissioned a survey of Christchurch residents’ satisfaction with EQC and the private insurance market. The results are harsh, empirical evidence that neither is performing as it should. Fifty per cent of those with an EQC property claim expressed some level of dissatisfaction with the commission’s performance. Within that, more than half were “very” or “extremely” dissatisfied. Conversely, less than one third – 29 per cent – said they were “very” or “extremely” satisfied.
Disorganisation, delays and a lack of communication were the most cited reasons for customers’ frustration.
Almost one third of property claimants – 30 per cent – said they could not move on with their lives.
EQC Canterbury events manager Reid Stiven acknowledged the numbers were not good enough. “Obviously we’d like [satisfaction] to be much higher that that.”
Greetings to all in Christchurch, and good luck with the rebuild of the city. Get involved and have your say…