As most of you will probably know, Christchurch has been battered by an horrific storm for more than 24 hours now. It went from being a “once in 50 year” event to a “once in a 100 year” event. While the rains are starting to ease now, the clean up is yet to start – especially for those in the hardest hit areas of St Albans, Richmond, Shirley and Mairehau. It’s an unfortunate, unnecessary reminder that as we head into our fourth year after the quakes, there are still people who are living in cold, damp, crowded conditions whilst they wait for a resolution. Surely after 3 years, even having one person in this situation is one person too many. But far from actively working to resolve the issues, EQC seem to be deliberately obfuscating:

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.

Perhaps even more worrying than the delay itself is the attitude of the EQC and their communications manager:

“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.”

Some intervention from head office. This sounds to me as though the EQC want to have editorial control over what a newspaper writes about them. This is a frankly Orwellian response to what were valid questions asked by a journalist simply doing their job. Instead of trying to constantly stifle and suppress information, EQC needs to be far more open and up front. I have friends who live in a TC3 area around Avonside, whose claim has been further held up waiting for the flood plain modelling. They, and others like them, have a right to know what is happening to their house, and soon – before there is another natural disaster, be that flood, snowstorm or earthquake. EQC – and the Minister responsible, Gerry Brownlee – need to remember that they serve us, not the other way around.

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