Remember when ‘Let’s Find and Fix’ was called ‘Find the 900’ because we figured there were about 900 families who may need temporary earthquake repairs to their homes to make them sanitary, secure and weather-tight?
Well it seems that the figure was pretty accurate and Let’s Find and Fix has just ticked over 901 registrations.
While it is not so great to think that 900 families have these issues in their homes, it is great to see how successful the project has been at removing the barriers and allowing people to have warmer, safer and healthier homes for winter.
The project is still running and people can still call 0800 233 551 to register for an assessment. At this stage the repairs have been happening at a slower rate than we have wanted but additional resource is being thrown at the fix end and we hope to see the number of fixes increase.
The response from our governance partners has been brilliant and insurers and EQC are both keen to keep the project running so that we can find everyone who needs these temporary repairs done – no stone unturned is the idea.
Thanks also to the organisations, frontline workers, community leaders and residents who have promoted the project to people who can benefit from it. Keep up the good work!
A quick aside, CanCERN’s AGM is this Tuesday, June 10th, and will be held at 6pm at Wainoni Methodist Church, 878 Avonside Drive, Christchurch. It’d be great to see all our members there!
Understanding IFV and IVL
Letters are starting to be delivered to some letterboxes in Canterbury telling homeowners they are classified as potentially IFV (Increased Flooding Vulnerability) or ILV (Increased Liquefaction Vulnerability).
Once you have your letter, there isn’t much you can do until your IFV/ILV status is confirmed, so don’t lose too much sleep over it.
Because there’s a lot of complex information surrounding these issues, we’ve tried to put together a bit of a summary including clarification of the following:
- IFV and ILV
- Ground-truthing and next steps for EQC
- Settlement options
- EQC’s declaratory judgement
It’s new and uncharted territory and there are many questions that can’t be answered yet but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be asked, so feel free to put the most confusing or alarming questions to In the Know or add them in the comment box below this post. We will answer what we can and upload the ‘biggies’ to In the Know for an official response.
Let’s clarify the terms IFV and ILV
Increased Liquefaction Vulnerability (ILV) is a type of land damage covered by EQC. In some areas of Canterbury the ground surface has subsided due to the earthquakes, but the groundwater table has typically remained at a constant level. Therefore the groundwater table is closer to the surface than prior to the earthquakes. This means the crust is thinner and liquefaction is more likely to occur in a future event.
Increased Flooding Vulnerability (IFV) is also a type of land damage covered by EQC. In some parts of Christchurch the earthquakes caused changes to residential land because it has subsided. Rivers and estuaries have also been changed (narrower and shallower in places). These changes mean some houses are now susceptible to flooding, and some are more likely to experience a greater depth and/or frequency of flooding.
A word you may see if you receive a letter is ‘potentially’ and it is an important one.
EQC still has to confirm whether land is ILV/IFV by doing what is called ‘ground-truthing’. EQC uses, amongst other information, LiDAR data, which essentially shows how ground height has changed since the earthquakes. LiDAR involves scanning the ground surface from an aircraft – this has been done after each major event (finishing with the 23 Dec 2012 event) – and comparing that information with LiDAR data taken before the quakes. The changes in ground height are then measured.
Ground-truthing involves a desk-top and physical review, which means an engineer will also walk over the land to check that the aerial data that’s been used has picked up real subsidence damage as opposed to changes to what is on top of the land, e.g. trees that have since been cut down.
Engineers are now visiting all properties potentially affected by increased flooding vulnerability. In many cases they will be able to identify the areas that need to be inspected from the road without entering the property. If they need to enter a property EQC will contact homeowners to seek permission.
Settlement options for ILV
Some people have previously received land settlements with letters that said it was their final settlement. These letters have been misleading to date – all land settlements have only dealt with visible land damage. ILV and IFV are what used to be referred to as Category 8 and Category 9 and they are not visible because they deal with an increased risk.
It is worth preparing your head now for the fact that lots of liquefaction and flooding does not always equate to lots of land settlement or any settlement at all. In some parts of Canterbury, tonnes of liquefaction were carted away after the quakes, but the movement of the tectonic plates means that the land is actually higher than it was and therefore further away from the water table. There, the liquefaction risk is less than it previously was and no settlement for ILV will be made.
Land with increased liquefaction vulnerability will be cash settled, and by the time you receive an offer, there will be information available about how ILV can be mitigated.
Some of you have already been rebuilt or repaired with enhanced foundations. These foundations are designed to hold the house together in a future event and are effectively a form of mitigation against major house damage. It is for this reason that insurers may have asked you to sign a DOA – Deed of Assignment – assigning potential land settlement to the insurer to put towards the enhanced foundations.
Other mitigation techniques will include the strengthening of the ground’s crust, which will limit the amount of liquefaction that spews out, meaning less land and house damage.
If you would like to know about the land remediation trial for ILV, which will form the basis of land settlement, click here.
Settlement options for IFV
Although many people’s properties have flooded badly since the quakes, not all have flooded as a result of subsidence on their own properties. Some flooding is caused by the fact that nearby rivers and waterways now carry less water, or that the infrastructure underground has still not been repaired. When the reason for increased flood risk is not caused by damage to the individual’s property (within EQC’s liability of 8 metres from a structure), no cash settlement will be paid.
However, where increased flood vulnerability is caused by damage to the individual’s property, they will be cash settled. The way in which EQC determines who is settled and for how much is the subject of a declaratory judgement.
The declaratory judgement is a good thing in terms of clarity. EQC will put their perspective forward regarding how they have interpreted the EQC Act and their liability, Insurance Council NZ will put the insurers’ perspectives forward, and an independent lawyer (aka an amicus) will provide an impartial legal opinion. As we understand it, several other parties have asked the court to accept their views – they are: the Christchurch City Council, the Flockton Cluster, and lawyer Grant Shand who is representing an individual. The judge will look at the different interpretations and make a ruling declaring one of them the best interpretation of the EQC Act. The hearing starts at the end of October and a judgement is likely in early 2015.
Although the finer details will be sorted out by the declaratory judgement, settlement is likely to be based on the loss of market value to your land and house. For example, if the property was valued at $300k before the quakes and is now valued at $250k because it has an increased risk of flood, EQC will cash settle your land claim for $50k. It will then be up to the homeowner to use the money to mitigate against flooding on their property – i.e. lift the house, install pumps, etc, or to pocket the money and accept the fact their place will flood.
One thing to note is that raising the land height to what it was before the quakes is not a repair that works. Land that is built up on individual properties is proven to be more susceptible to lateral spreading. So, you might not flood but your house will be more likely to break.
We can expect that implications for not doing anything to mitigate against flood risk are likely to include a lack of insurance cover or increased premiums and letters from your bank.
At this stage there is also discussion about EQC pooling the affected settlement money together in some high-risk areas and offering it to the Christchurch City Council so that they can do area-wide mitigation. EQC’s justification for this idea is that if area-wide mitigation works then individual residents no longer have an increased vulnerability to flood.
This is all going to be incredibly difficult for many to understand and we are advocating for better face-to-face opportunities with the right technical people so that homeowners can make sense of their situation and their future.
As we said earlier, if you have any questions (even if you think they can’t be answered), add them to the comment box below this post. We will answer what we can and upload the ‘biggies’ to In the Know for an official response.
We already know that one of the big unanswered questions floating around is, ‘Who does the cash settlement belong to if you sell your land or have already sold it at a reduced price’?
NB: Please remember that In the Know cannot deal with individualised questions specific to a property or claim.
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CCC Flood Taskforce – ideas for government support
The Christchurch City Council has now presented the ministerial briefing paper to Minister Gerry Brownlee regarding temporary flood defence measures.
A key purpose of the briefing is to propose specific actions the Crown may wish to consider supporting the Council in delivering short term solutions.It is encouraging to see the holistic consideration the taskforce has given to supporting flood affected residents outlining both engineering and financial supports.
Let’s hope that the government is not scared off by the idea of setting precedent by providing access to accommodation assistance. The original purpose of the Temporary Accommodation Assistance was to support those who were going to be out of their homes for an extreme amount of time through not fault of their own awaiting repairs therefore exhausting insurance accommodation cover. The issue facing flood residents is the same because they are not just awaiting flood repairs; they awaiting land settlement certainty, earthquake repairs, flood mitigation, …
It is also worth noting the bold move CCC has taken by suggesting the Building Act be amended so homes with an increased flood vulnerability can have their floor levels raised. I imagine there are many holding their breath on this point alone.
Please see the summary points below:
2.1 Short term assistance for worst affected households
- Earthquake Support Co-ordinators
Request that the Canterbury Earthquake Temporary Accommodation Service (CETAS) agree to extend its services to households impacted by earthquake- related flooding.
- Earthquake Temporary Village
Request the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment to recommend changes to Cabinet, to the eligibility criteria for tenancy within the Earthquake Temporary Village(s) to accommodate people dislocated by the effects of flooding due to earthquake damage to their property.
- Temporary Relocation / accommodation support
Work with the Council and insurers to develop a financial assistance/relocation package to assist people who are required to leave their homes as a result of repeated inundation, which has made their homes uninhabitable, or where the health risks associated with continued occupation cannot be addressed in an acceptable timeframe.
2.2 Resourcing and collaboration
- Continued support for an open and transparent relationship and data sharing between CERA, EQC, and CCC to actively problem solve these householders impacted as a result of the recent flood events, where the impact of the earthquakes has been a contributing factor to their new circumstances.
- Ensure the SCIRT work programme is properly aligned and co-ordinated with the Land Drainage Recovery Programme (LDRP) and any short term flood protection measures being undertaken.
- Provide CCC access to red zone dwellings for pilot house protection demonstration project.
- Consider establishing a joint CCC/Crown short term flood defence fund in the order of $2m to provide a fund for rapid implementation of minor flood mitigation measures for properties subject to Increased Flooding Vulnerability (IFV) as a result of the Canterbury Earthquakes where immediate benefits can be realised. These measures could include house level or neighbourhood protections.
See the full report here. Please note that although the report says, ‘confidential’ it has now been publicly released.
• Seek the assistance of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to investigate ways in which the Building Act 2004 could be amended to require the floor level of a building to be raised where that property is subject to increased flooding vulnerability, as a result of earthquake damage to the land and or buildings.
Finding the vulnerable residents
Everyone has a social responsibility to help identify the most vulnerable people in their communities, and this is particularly important for those dealing with quake repairs.
Generally, the most severely damaged properties get priority, but there are people with lesser damaged homes that are seriously struggling and may need to jump the queue.
These ‘vulnerable’ people often suffer in silence.
EQC wants to know about families, elderly or other vulnerable residents who are living with earthquake damage that could be affecting their health and wellbeing.
So, if you know of anyone, call EQC on 0800 326 243 and ask to be put through to the Community Contact Team.
Click here to see the vulnerability criteria./************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
‘The Cantabrian’ home viewing
Don’t forget, if you’re interested in taking a look at ‘The Cantabrian’ show home (a house designed to TC3 land specs) it’s now open to the public.
The project, led by Southern Response, opened for public viewing a couple of weeks ago, but it’s being officially opened by Gerry Brownlee on Thursday (June 12).
For more info about The Cantabrian click here.
Where: 81 Cranford St, Christchurch
When: Public viewing 12pm – 2pm, Mon – Sat/************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
A ‘Recycle, Relocate, Reuse’ success story!
CanCERN’s ‘Recycle, Relocate, Reuse’ has been very quietly bubbling away in the background and getting things like sheds, kitchens, fences, and baths out of the red zone and to groups that need them.
Here’s one example of a happy recipient…