Up Front by Emma Hart

Read Post

Up Front: Floodland

68 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 Newer→ Last

  • Bronwyn Hayward,

    Thank you Isabel for putting words to the experiences of a community of New Zealand-that you can write like this, at a time like now is invaluable.

    All around me here is a kind of quiet, exhausted suffering, I never expected to see in New Zealand-but then I never expected it would take all our collective concerted effort to lift the sights of a NZ government to see that these are issues of human rights, and that the key problems and its solution is not the rebuilding a CBD, but to support our communities (from Kaeo to Christchurch).

    It will take new thinking, and a new kind of social contract, or plan between NZ government and citizens, rethinking our mutual obligations & needs if we are to provide security for NZ citizens in a rapidly changing social and economic world-thank you for putting the situation in ways that help people to empathize and understand

    Since Jan 2014 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Bronwyn Hayward, in reply to Bronwyn Hayward,

    ps obviously we also have to rethink how we provide security for NZ citizens in a changing physical environment! Complex, connected environmental risks (like quakes, severe weather events in a changing climate etc) are exacerbated, by underlying economic and social changes. These economic & social changes also makes some people more vulnerable to the new risks. Which is why we need to find sustainable, democratic solutions to the new security risks facing citizens (esp. children/elderly). Thanks again Isabel for writing such a moving piece

    Since Jan 2014 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    So sorry to hear all this, Isabel. It must be absolutely awful having to deal with these problems on top of the earthquakes and the resulting earthquake issues. If there's anything I can do (engineer's second opinion, etc.) then please let me know. We're thinking of you in Dunsandel.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    It all sounds just to awful Isabel I cannot imagine how you have stuck it out

    I do get a little grumpy at the event being called a 100 year event as if that can't be planned for when in reality it a one in 5 event
    A pity the pumping station that allowed development in your area can't be upgraded to deal with the post quake changes

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 578 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    Amazingly well put Isabel. I send aroha to you and yours. I can't begin to imagine the horror of the house flooding. Today we've discovered our old garage/shed/storeroom went under: halfway through a dung-out with rain forecast for tomorrow, and nowhere to store and dry out what's left , I am so fucking over it all. I've not felt angry like this since it all began three and half years ago: no-one to blame just impotent volatile rage. I predict a long angry down here all round.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Raymond A Francis,

    Thank you for taking the time to write this, Isabel. There's an immense feeling of helplessness all over again just seeing this on the news. I can't imagine what it's like on the ground. It's so relentless and unfair.

    I do get a little grumpy at the event being called a 100 year event as if that can’t be planned for when in reality it a one in 5 event

    The impression I get from the news coverage is that the *impact* is what was previously considered a 1-in-100-year level, now altered by the quakes' effect on the local geography, but the storm itself is a 1-in-5-year level of rain. I remember we had torrential downpours in May 2010 - driving rain every day, all day for a week - and I biked to work along the Avon every day without seeing any flooding. It seems like the land movement has fundamentally altered the risk profile for a lot of the city in ways that haven't yet been worked through, because everyone's still cleaning up from the quakes themselves.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Raymond A Francis,

    I do get a little grumpy at the event being called a 100 year event as if that can’t be planned for

    That was rolled out back in 1992, when the drop in Southern lake levels was blamed on the eruption of Mt Pinatubo in the Philippines, and Aucklanders were reduced to taking cold showers. Electricorp Chairman the late John Fernyhough blatantly ignored being held to account in a TV interview by chanting "one in 100 years".

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    It seems like the land movement has fundamentally altered the risk profile for a lot of the city in ways that haven’t yet been worked through, because everyone’s still cleaning up from the quakes themselves.

    There's a lot of... I was looking for an indirect way to say "money", but fuck it, money, tied up in denying that the changes in flood risk are because of the earthquake. And, like Bronwyn says, what do you do? Where the Heathcote is now regularly flooding, maybe that could be fixed by dredging. But near where I live, the flooding risk is because of a whole bunch of little underground streams that, prior to the quakes, used to just burble away minding their own business. The land around them dropped, and now perfectly normal levels of rainfall causes huge surface flooding. What can be done about that?

    The drop in the land levels is quite hard to get your head around, because it's pretty much invisible.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Emma Hart,

    The drop in the land levels is quite hard to get your head around, because it’s pretty much invisible.

    See, as someone who...did a bunch of geology courses...wait, that's not as authoritative as I meant it to be...anyway, I would be *totally fucking stunned* if the earthquakes hadn't radically altered the floodplain profile in Christchurch. It's basically a drained swamp, and everything got shaken and stirred - sometimes sort of literally, where there was lots of liquefaction. But measuring all of that, charting it, re-working the risk tables...that's years of work, and it's not surprising it's pretty far down the list when they're not finished arguing about the earthquake risk in some areas.

    (By the way, the expectation back when I was looking at the maps was that the big flood risk was the Waimakariri breaking its banks and doing for all the northern suburbs - like the expected "big one" for earthquakes was a magnitude 9 somewhere along the Alpine Fault. The local Heathcote valley flooding wasn't talked up much. But then, everything was 50cm higher...puts sea level rise into perspective, no?)

    Electricorp Chairman the late John Fernyhough blatantly ignored being held to account in a TV interview by chanting “one in 100 years”.

    Argh. A 1-in-100-year risk means *a 1% chance of happening in any given year*, not that it only happens once every hundred years. That's actually still worth planning for.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Emma Hart,

    The drop in the land levels is quite hard to get your head around, because it's pretty much invisible.

    I Have been working on this since 2012 with various in the news media. Each time we managed to get little parts of the story chipped open, but the doors slammed on full disclosure in some extraordinary ways. I outlined some of the downstream effects in my post in the last couple of days over on Tales of Two Cities.

    Basically yeah there is shitloads of dosh involved. Thousands of properties. The Tonkin and Taylor report was clear as to the effects on land levels and situations like Flockton, Emma's area and mine. That was two years ago.

    John McCrone's story in August 2012 in the Press is a good place to start understanding the issues. Then read Tonkin & Taylor land report. I cannot understand why Gerry Brownlee said yesterday he could not say whether land had dropped as a result of the earthquakes: shitloads of dosh involved? T&T was clear: it has. Also that river beds have risen. And a lot else. Land compensation has already been paid on the basis of that report, indicating the Govt accepted the report's findings.

    Areas like mine where we are now exposed to higher flood risk because our land has dropped as a result of the quakes are not compensated by insurance: my land claim settlement letter said the land had dropped a bit. However, the damage was deemed to be less than $500 -- under the excess so zilch payout. EQR are dumping repairs on us that are predicated on the pre-quake land levels. Property values will suffer; greatly.

    Next week the council will release the draft District Plan that will put swathes of the city in the official FMA. That has been worked on by the CCC and Ecan for near two years. It takes account of climate change projections and EQ land levels change.

    The more I know, the more I realise that no-one is telling the whole story. No-one in power is being open about it all. We're being well screwed, and this week's flood was actually rather inconvenient for the duck-shovers.

    However John Campbell does seems to know something: last night in an aside he gave a major clue that some plans are afoot that will satisfy some people. I hope so; I really hope so but I suspect that it's a payout for the worst affected only.

    Back to the swamp: just found that most of the book treasures are dry. Yay.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    This is just so horrible for you Isabel and you have my sympathy, not that its much help.

    As for one in a hundred year events - to be clear that is a journalistic term ie a steaming pile of bollocks.

    Basically we have no real way to know how frequent such a flood might be. As Lucy pointed out we have very good reasons for believing flood frequency will change after the quakes because of changes in the land. We also know Southern ocean weather patterns are being affected by ice melting in the Antarctic another good reason to expect change. And even if it really was a 1% chance event it could happen again next week and the week after - sigh.

    All that means is that it's time this Government actually spent some money to help Christchurch instead of pretending Fletchers and the free market will magically solve all the problems. A National disgrace in every sense.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Hebe,

    John McCrone’s story in August 2012 in the Press is a good place to start understanding the issues. Then read Tonkin & Taylor land report. I cannot understand why Gerry Brownlee said yesterday he could not say whether land had dropped as a result of the earthquakes: shitloads of dosh involved? T&T was clear: it has.

    Given Christchurch’s original flood risk, not knowing whether it had changed would involve either some pretty fundamental incompetence on the part of a lot of people or a massive cover-up. I am strangely relieved to know it’s just a massive cover-up and people have actually been checking. (ETA: Googling some of McCrone's reporting over the last year or so, I am gobsmacked that Brownlee thought he could get away with claiming this. The increased flood risk and general land subsidence appears to be extensively documented.) Not that it helps in the immediate term.

    Back to the swamp: just found that most of the book treasures are dry. Yay.

    Hurrah!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Gerry said that? He has to be joshing. If he didn’t know of this it is one his best Head-In-The-Sand responses of his career.

    It has. Check Figure 9 of this GNS report

    Or

    This Taylor and Tomkin report with similar piccie in Fig 3-4 page 15. St Albans is a bad spot to be….and I suspect the Woolston/Opawa area uplift is damming the areas behind them.

    Scary perspective. In the last 1,000,000 years there have probably been in the order of 10,000 100 year floods. Statements of long lived residents like “I’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime” are nothing compared to the odd million years. Chch has not even been through two 100 year cycles.

    Chch is built on a swamp. These are low lying. The oceans are rising while the land is dropping. Which generation is going to bite the bullet? Significant numbers of Chch people are going to have to move. The logistics of lifting houses and / or filling sections higher just does not bear thinking about. Please don’t try New Orleans flood protection around Chch.

    Thanks NBR for digging for this EQC Flood Modelling report

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Thanks NBR for digging for this EQC Flood Modelling report

    Grouse. Thanks.

    Figure 9: I have the link for close-ups of that somewhere.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Please don’t try New Orleans flood protection around Chch.

    It's happening now.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Bronwyn Hayward,

    It will take new thinking, and a new kind of social contract, or plan between NZ government and citizens, rethinking our mutual obligations & needs

    Yes!

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    One (very minor) good thing about the floods is that at least it seems to have finally killed off the word "resilience".

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Jeez there's a lot to take in. a lot of info out there, once you start digging. Talking with some UC geographers today, and the intersecton of engineering, earth science, and human society can get terribly complicated.
    Best wishes and hoping for a dry few days.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    For once, a Chch disaster I’m on the *outside* of. Isabel, my heart goes out to you and all others affected. Thanks for writing this.

    I was shocked to see my familiar stretches of the Heathcote river through Opawa and Woolston made unrecognisable, the river at one with the streets and footpaths and gardens surrounding.

    The council has been dredging along here a lot since the quakes. They’ve removed more weed than you could possibly imagine (the water has been, shall we say, nutrient-rich ) but I don’t know how the profile of the riverbed has been affected by liquefaction and uplift. As we know, liquefaction silt sets hard and is virtually waterproof.

    I remember when I was a kid, before the Woolston Cut was put in, every year or two there’d be flooding on Clarendon and Richardson Terraces. The Cut helped the river to flow faster, but I wonder if changes to the bed of the Estuary may have nullified those gains. Perhaps both rivers are now draining more slowly?

    It’s clear that the damage caused by the earthquakes is so much bigger and more complicated than we thought. Poor bloody Christchurch.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    The geographers were talking about changes to the rivers- beds uplifted, some narrowing; plus the estuary into which they all drain- it's come up, slowing flow down. And there are constructed stormwater drain problems over and underground. All on top of issues with the myriad smaller creeks, and some areas forming natural basins, some much exacerbated by the quakes.
    There are maps with a range of data - including ground elevation and subsidence 2003-2012 (not terribly detailed, but useful) here.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Breakfast in the ruins…

    … killed off the word “resilience”.

    Don’t worry, like water, something else equally inane will rush in to fill the void.
    How long till we are all ‘steeped in stoicism’?
    Then it’s not too far to ’Job-like’ forebearance…
    grrrr…

    Perhaps I’ll revise my new cityslogan -
    ‘Chchch Is Pumping’
    to either:
    ‘Christchurch – Big Jobs’
    or
    ‘Christchurch – You Know You’re Soaking In It’

    and something ineffable about a '...steeplechase...'
    but it eludes me

    ;- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to ,

    Entirely possible.The question is: who pays? EQC says not; insurers say not. Even though the changes in the land are directly as a result of the earthquake, no entity will take responsibility. Despite full insurance -- for land and for house.

    If the problem is too big, no-one will own it, and that's the awful, unjust and hideous reality.

    The rest of NZ should be concerned: this is a precedent-setting situation that will be applied to every homeowner's land insurance. It effectively renders land insurance near non-existent and building insurance full of get-outs.

    Banks will now start to lobby I would imagine: people will walk away from their properties.


    Resolving this must be a primary election issue. Fuck resilience.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to ,

    Marsh ado about ...

    ....put it on stilts.
    Is that out of the question?

    Hell no, bring on the Bayou
    ship in more fiddlers...
    We'll take a punt!

    I'm more worried about an ACT coup or seachange in Chchch.
    I had a vision of a flotilla of Gibbs Aquadas revving their wake-up through our suburban archipelagoes...

    Sorry with all the screw-ups down here everyone's Archimedean...

    PS: Still haven't seen or heard a peep out of Chchch Central MP Nicky Wagner in the media, that lack of the common touch should help her lose the election.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    Thank you everyone for your kind thoughts. Even when there isn't a lot that can be done it helps to know that people are coming to understand the complexity of the situations we, and many other Christchurch residents, are facing.

    Steven Raising houses is definitely something which has been discussed. I'm not sure how feasible it is as replacing piles on TC3 land, such as ours, means using special, extra deep foundations so is an even costlier undertaking than it might be. Raising houses also doesn't address the damage and contamination that flood waters cause to gardens, garages and fences.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    Stilts on TC3 is a challenge, though could be done (expensively). One man in the St Martins valley near the foot of the Port Hills put down 17-metre piles (he paid for the extra) as part of his extensive repair.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.