• Tue. Nov 29th, 2022

Napier man still battling with Earthquake Commission two years after flood destroyed his home

ByChad J. Johnson

Nov 9, 2022

Paul Matthews’ house was badly damaged two years ago in the Napier flood and there has been little progress since.
Photo: Tom Kitchin/RNZ

A Napier man is battling with the Earthquake Commission as he tries to recover from a flood that has wreaked havoc in the town.

Two years ago today, around 600 properties were damaged by freak flooding that caused slips and flooded the streets with water. Napier City Council called it a once-in-250-year event.

Paul Matthews said officials believe his Hospital Hill home suffered the worst damage in the city as a massive landslide slammed into the back of his house.

On the second anniversary, his house was still considered a “dangerous building” and could not be occupied. His hallway was still full of a mixture of dried mud and sewage.

The paths on either side of the house were inaccessible because the weeds were so overgrown.

Napier man Paul Matthews is battling with the Earthquake Commission as he tries to recover from a flood that has wreaked havoc on the town.

Paul Matthews’ garden is now full of weeds.
Photo: Tom Kitchin/RNZ

Matthews said “physically nothing” had changed since last year, “other than another year of excessive growth and I guess also another year of engineering spending and so on.”

He had also discovered that his house had to be demolished.

“I spent 25 years in this house, renovating it, and I did pretty much everything you could think of, and I raised my children to be a house and I put all my heart, I poured all my money into it.

“It was destroyed within seconds, when the landslide happened, but just watching a house deteriorate in two years like that is not pleasant to watch.”

Getting the ground sorted had been one of the most difficult tasks, as he was dealing with Toka Tū Ake EQC (the Earthquake Commission).

“It was estimated to fix the land at $1.6 million, and EQC’s payment was $240,000, so I’m missing $1.3 million,” Matthews said.

His lawyer sent a letter to EQC calling the settlement “woefully inadequate”, seeking to speak to the Commission, if not take legal action.

But just yesterday they received a response and part of it said, “We recognize that sometimes a customer’s entitlement is not sufficient to implement the required corrective solution and some customers may need to involve their private insurer or contribute to the repair themselves. we sympathize with your client’s situation, EQC coverage has legal limits.”

Matthews argued it was unfair and said EQC was no longer there for people.

“Before the Christchurch earthquake EQC looked after you. After the earthquake and Christchurch you are given money and EQC goes away and lets you and there is no more support .”

EQC said it was one of the few insurance schemes in the world to cover ground damage. But he had limits defined by law.

“I would like to reiterate that we recognize the stressful situation Mr. Matthews has found himself in and our staff have worked closely with Mr. Matthews to support his claim so that he can be paid his full statutory entitlements. quickly and efficiently,” said Kate Tod, Head of Preparedness. said in a statement.

But Matthews said his next stop could be the courthouse.

City infrastructure

Meanwhile, local councils said they were busy making improvements to flood-torn infrastructure in the town.

Mayor Kirsten Wise said upgrades to pumps and pipes were a big part of that.

“There’s really a pretty comprehensive plan across the city. We were really lucky to get $12.1 million through the [government’s] Infrastructure [acceleration] fund that is directly related to marine stormwater and invest in that.”

Napier City Council has planned at least $30 million more for works in other parts of the city, such as the CBD and Te Awa.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council said it had invested $450,000 in improvements along the waterway network and had another $2.1 million planned.

This included replacing and refurbishing the pumps.