Saturday, September 11, 2010

After the Quake - Saturday: the Long Haul

As the initial stages of a disaster wear off, at least two things emerge, one of which may be overlooked, at least in the stratosphere of media interest. One of those things is the plight of the worst off: child X has lost all family - parents and siblings - to the disaster, and now is a homeless orphan with a terrible future (many such stories in places of recent disaster such as Haiti and Pakistan). Here in Christchurch, where we are all thankful that no one has been killed, the 'worst off' are emerging as those who one day had a house and the next have lost it, damaged beyond repair by the quake. In all sorts of ways their lives have been shattered, and although our country has special funds for assisting victims of earthquakes,  many such people face a great deal of uncertainty about how those funds will assist them, and just what future housing they will have.

Another thing which emerges is the plight of the medium term affected, but in the long run probably okay. Even that clumsy wording points to the reason why this emerging situation is likely to get little continuing treatment from the media. Here, I suggest, this plight is the situation some find themselves in where their homes are essentially okay (but repairs will be necessary) but damage to infrastructure is such that it is going to take months to restore something as basic as sewerage, which in some of our streets has been broken by the quake but in such a way that locating the break is going to take time. Thus, effectively, the homes of some will be unliveable in for the medium term. Insurance policies may kindly provide an alternative, such as 'up to six months accommodation in a motel'. But who wants to live in a motel for six months?

In short, as many lives here get back to normal, some lives are not getting back to normal, and will not for some time. Media attention to the plight of one group may help things move along (thus already we are seeing some insurance companies improve their responses through media spotlighting of their inadequacies), but another group may have no such assistance! The challenge for parishes and church social agencies, as per usual, will be to persist in providing care over the long-term. But in this case, for some parishes, looming over their determination to care, are some tricky questions relating to buildings. These questions cannot be swept aside, and in some cases will be made more complex by pressure from 'heritage' lobby groups, determined that rebuilding is to the way a building once was, rather than to the way a parish would like to minister in the 21st century.


Roscoe Mishmack said...

I've got an interesting (I think) example human nature for you, Peter. I've had occasion recently to look at the local oppostion to the proposed Hurunui Wind Farm and it's wonderful how disinterested some of the good folk of Glenmark ward have been in the interests of the rest of the country, when it comes to having windmills in their backyard. I'll be interested to see if the response of the rest of the country to the plight of their fellow Cantabrians will change their attitudes.

How did it go again - 'No man is an island...'?

Peter Carrell said...

They are holding out for quake-proof windmills, aren't they? :)

Roscoe Mishmack said...

Yeah, I think they probably looked into that before they built the ones at Makara, eh?

I should have said "uninterested" not "disinterested", shouldn't I? Still get them mixed up sometimes.