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EQC stonewalls NBR flood request

As Christchurch endures flooded streets, NBR is still awaiting a response to questions about long-awaited flood plain modelling and flood remediation in Christchurch sent to EQC a week before today’s devastating flooding.

EQC spin doctors are hampering the process, attempting to stonewall NBR’s reporter with a complaint over “aggressive questioning”, according to EQC stakeholder communications manager Iain Butler.

“We are working away on what I consider a comprehensive response to Chris’s questions but I would like some assurance that the final product of this exchange will be fair, balanced and accurate – in other words, some intervention from head office may be required before the final article goes to print,” Mr Butler says.

Within 24 hours of Mr Butler’s gripe, the most affected areas in Shirley, St Albans and Richmond were thigh-high in water as they were in June 2013 when the flood plain modelling was initiated.

For two days the city has endured wild winds and near vertical sheeting rain that has caused havoc with the sewage system and flooded homes and businesses.

Areas that escaped flooding in June 2013 also took a big hit this time – many suburbs such as Sumner are currently cut off, Lyttelton residents report flooding never experienced before, traffic snarls its way through flooded streets in central Christchurch, many streets are off limits, and sewerage may have escaped into the floodwaters the council says.

At mid-morning the rain is slowly easing and the swollen waterways are expected to subside over the next day or two.

More by Chris Hutching

Comments and questions

As a victim of EQC and my considered opinion that they, the staff and contract consultants are 'unprintable'. Iain Butler needs to be told in no uncertain terms to pull his head in and start answering a few questions, especially the hard ones. But I guess his paycheck makes him and his workmates feel ever so superior.
Its a real shame that even the government wont hold the incompetents to account.

EQC had undertaken to provide NBR with a response today, and still intend to meet that deadline. For the benefit of readers, the email quoted above went to editor Nevil Gibson and outlined concerns that the reporter had predetermined his article and lacked any genuine attempt at enquiry. For instance, he asked if properties at flood risk were a priority for EQC, then asked "Why not". Mr Gibson is yet to respond.

Hi Iain, we look forward to your response to Mr Hutching's questions, as do our readers. Our Member Subscribers are the best judge of fair, balanced and accurate reporting.
NBR Publisher

It looks to me that the reporter asked "Why not" because after three years it is obvious to all that the flood risk was not a priority. I think it is clear that the reporter had not predetermined the article because there is no evidence that anything was done to mitigate the flood risk. My house had minimal damage and was fixed within 12 months of the earthquake. Three years on and some of the people in the worst affected areas have not even been given decisions. How can anyone get on with their lives? This is fast becoming an international embarressment.

Great work NBR team ... and thank you.

The big disaster in Christchurch has been the recovery management.

Very kind of you to describe it as "management", Hugh.
Nice twist - the "dark side" questioning anyone's ethics - let alone a bona fide journalist's!
Keep it up Chris.

The responsible minister should answer a few questions.

Sounds more like a EQC LACK OF stakeholder communications manager.

I can remember when obfuscating an OIA request could get a State servant disciplined.

There are much wider urban governance / planning issues here of course.

Why ... for example ... haven't the authorities at both central and local level allowed affordable land to be supplied on the better ground on the fringes of Christchurch, since the first earthquake events 4 September 2010 ... three and a half years ago ???

And where is the central leadership focused on de-risking our cities throughout the country ?

Looks like "100-year flood zone", only apply to everybody except Christchurch City Council....

You are correct, however just as an aside I was bemused that the political opportunistic that caught on, who labelled it a 100 year event was in contrast to quite a few reports from those with long memories that the rain of that order was last seen in the 70's...only then the drains weren't blocked and land height all over the show.