Update on Earthquake Recovery in Christchurch, NZ

Greater Christchurch Recovery report ( 12 pp.) from the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority. The report is insightful about the transition from short- to long-term recovery and candid about unresolved issues.

Thanks to Ian McLean for the link. As he noted to me “the briefings have rather more life than run-of-the-mill bureaucratic reports. And some of the data is a useful record.”


NOTE: Earlier reports and articles re the earthquake events are stored in the NZ page of this blog.

“Supporting the Supporters in Disaster Recovery”

Supporting the Supporters in Disaster Recovery by Jodie Wills of the NZ Red Cross.  This 82 page document fills a gap by addressing an important topic that has received far too little attention. It is very well written, quite readable, and should be required reading for all responders, Reservists, FEMA Corps staff, Red Cross volunteers etc……..

Many thanks to the author who reads this blog and was gracious enough to send me the link to her new report and website. Note that the website provides some additional information as well as access to the full report.

NOTE: The Diva will be publishing some comments from U.S. responders on this topic in the coming days.

Additional Updates on Recovery in Christchurch, NZ

The population of Christchurch’s richest areas has grown by more than 13,000 people as a “new breed of wealth” transforms the city’s economic landscape.

 New research by the University of Otago maps different levels of poverty across New Zealand and shows that Christchurch is better off than it was in 2006.

The number of people living in the least-deprived parts of Christchurch has grown by about 13,000, while the number in the most deprived areas has fallen by about the same number, the latest deprivation index by the University of Otago reveals.

The second article deals with infrastructure restoration in CHCH.

News from Christchurch, NZ on Recovery Process

Christchurch, NZ is a major city in a first-world nation. And NZ has mandated earthquake insurance. We in the U.S. have a lot to learn from the recovery from two major earthquakes, which devastated the city’s central business district just a few years ago. Here are two current articles about their recovery experience:

For details on a novel way to gain reconstruction workers and benefit the unemployed see: New Zealand offers unemployed cash to move to quake ravaged city. Some details from the article:

Unemployed New Zealanders are being offered cash by the government to move to the earthquake-damaged city of Christchurch and join in the rebuilding effort. The government announced Tuesday it would pay welfare recipients 3,000 New Zealand dollars to move to the city if they found any kind of full-time work there.

Christchurch has been slowly rebuilding after a 2011 quake killed 185 people and destroyed much of the city’s downtown. * * *  Minister Paula Bennett said the city’s reconstruction is creating thousands of jobs but some unemployed people don’t have the resources to move to Christchurch. She said the money will help pay for moving expenses, accommodation, tools and other equipment. “There is demand not only in construction, but in hospitality, retail and many other industries too,” she said in a statement.

Thanks to Pierre Picard for the URL.


Recovery Outcomes in Christchurch, NZ

Christchurch has been recovering from a massive earthquake in 2011.  Here are a couple of articles about how victims and those working to help them have been faring in the nearly four years since then.

Thanks to Ian McLean for providing the citation.

Report Is Critical of Role of Fire Service in Christchurch Quake Response in 2011

It is not often that you see a detailed and candid account of the failings of the response effort to an earthquake. Sadly, the death toll and the law suits that followed the Feb. 2011 earthquake and aftershocks in Christchurch led to this inquiry. The final report was recently released.

Thanks to Ian McLean and John Coleman for the links.

Update on the Recovery Process in Christchurch, NZ

As was noted in the articles about the H. Sandy recovery proceeding far more slowly than most would like, the same thing is true in Christchurch.

Thanks to Ian McLean of New Zealand for this link to an updated account of the recovery process in Christchurch. Although the article is based heavily on an interview with the former mayor, Bob Parker, Ian noted that much of what Parker had recommended to city officials was not mentioned and that 10 of  his recommendations were never acted upon.


Personal Account of the Christchurch, NZ recovery

Christchurch, NZ experienced two major earthquakes in Sept. of 2010 and in Feb. of 2011  as well as thousands of aftershocks since then. Details of the many quakes are here. Here is a personal account of the recovery from an experienced U.S. disaster professional who was visiting in Christchurch this past month. She shared her observations with the Diva, but prefers to remain anonymous.

Christchurch was very interesting, but heartbreaking. From what I heard from talking to residents and even tourists from England, most are disappointed in the Recovery. Some say it’s too slow, some want it back how it was, and others say there is a shortage of construction workers, as Australia pays more, and NZ cost of living makes it hard to live there.

From speaking to people on the street, they become tearful of what used to be. They don’t like the “big glass boxes” that are replacing the damaged buildings.

I did go by the Office of Emergency Management, and spoke with one of the Team Leads and one who is in charge of “welfare”, but of course, not the meaning we use for welfare. They’d like that terminology changed. They can’t rebuild the old stone and cement buildings, no matter how beautiful they were. I’m sure you know this, but they said they didn’t even know there was a fault or the liquefaction in the geology of the area.

Emergency Management is trying to make it a “happier place”. They have built a temporary shopping area in the City Centre out of train containers, where there is not only shopping, but events and concerts.

The Museum offers bus tours of the damage, and there is something called “Quake City”, I suppose a simulation and information on what it is like to have experienced the earthquake. I did not take the tours, nor go to the display. I saw enough damage just driving through. I suppose I’m a little odd in that I don’t take pictures of disasters. Somehow it feels intrusive.

Their biggest project now is infrastructure. The whole sewer system needs to be replaced before much building can continue. Roads in the city are a mess. I got the feeling at the temporary building of the Office of Emergency Management of frustration. However, their priorities seem to be  for social and crisis issues, and infrastructure. That may be because that is whom I spoke with.  They work with the different Ministries, probably as we do with our Recovery Support Functions.

I was surprised, no validation of who I was, no security guards, offered a cup of tea and a chair to sit and chat. What a different culture! We discussed the differences in our countries. Their law enforcement doesn’t even carry guns, and need permission to use them. No school shootings, very little violence, but of course, worries about the instability of the island, earthquakes, tsunami’s, and volcanoes. 

I didn’t see anything about the Mayor-Elect at all. In fact, I didn’t see much about politics. What a relief that has been.

 I’m sure you know more than I, but it was an interesting first hand experience. If there is anything else I can answer for you, or I think of something, I will pass it on. Did I tell you they loved our expression “The new normal”, and are going to use it?  Funny, how things get started.