Christchurch four years after Black Tuesday

We all remember it. A rumble and things beginning to sway; like being a bomb going off. 1251 hours 22 February 2011 is like 0846 hours 11 September 2011 in New York or 1359 hours 26 Decenber 2004 on the Banda Aceh coast line in Indonesia. It is a moment forever permanently imprinted on the minds of thousands of people.

For 185 people it was the end. For tens of thousands, it was the start of an ordeal, a trial by mud and shakes, by relationships and insurance. No one said it would be a walk in the park. No one can blame them for clamming up when pressed. No one can blame them for just being over it. I am too.

Four years after the  earthquake that changed Christchurch, the damaged buildings are now down or coming down. Most houses have been repaired or are soon going to be. Despite the continuing peppering of the city with magnitude 3 range and the odd magnitude 4, the last thing to make it into magnitude 5 was nearly three years ago. People have moved on or are trying their best to do so.

But the scars are there. Deep down there are thousands of people in Christchurch for whom the mental scars are just below the surface, raw as they were at 1252 hours that fateful cloudy day. Relationships have been defined by the quake. Some have broken up with otherwise rock solid partners. A few might have thrived, but all would have learnt.

I have grown. I have moved on. So have my friends and family as far as they reasonably can. We have learnt much about ourselves and our family and friends in doing so. Although I lost my job in those dust filled, siren blaring, aftershock ridden and mud covered moments after 1251 hours, I have found another job and re-established myself. I have developed new skill sets through university and my voluntary work. I have plans for an overseas trip, my first by myself. I still want to work with natural hazards and always will, but I am a much stronger person than I was even two years ago.

But we owe it to Christchurch, to our long term wellbeing as Aotearoa/New Zealand to fix all the remaining claims as fast as we can. We need to fix the Earthquake Commission and make sure that when insurance companies next deal with a major disaster, they know that there are A) standards that they need to meet and B) that the public has a reasonable expectation, they will try their damndest to fix the problems in good time. The people in Christchurch are grumpy for a reason. They want to move on. NOW. They have had enough waiting and no one can blame them. This would have been over yonks ago if the insurance companies had been given a clear deadline to meet and the resources necessary to meet it by.

It is for the sake of the next New Zealand town/city/district/region that we sort this out now and determine appropriate standards to apply to the Earthquake Commission and the insurance companies before the next disaster. The day before Wellington gets slammed by the Wellington Fault is too late.

Stop mucking around and get your act together.

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