For the last year or two our lives have been consumed by the state of the economy locally and globally. So much has been written and spoken on the subject with everyone (including myself) having an opinion as to where it was all heading.
The recent failure of the South Canterbury Finance Company fuelled the fires and there has been much speculation and debate over the reasons for their demise and the subsequent government payout to investors.
Suddenly though, this has all paledinto relative insignificance with the disastrous earthquake that has hitChristchurch and the Canterburyregion and few will envy or questionthe South Canterbury investors whowill recover their investment funds.In fact, on the question of funding,millions of dollars will need to beinjected into Canterbury and morespecifically Christchurch and itsimmediate surrounds to restore thatarea to its former glory.
Government has already stated that it will take care of a large portion of the costs involved in repairingChristchurch's infrastructure and with a lot of this damage being below ground level, the costs and extent of this remedial work will be considerable and difficult to estimate at this stage. Various funds have been established to assist those in need and the country as a whole will give generously, I am sure.
The effects on the residents of the affected areas are hard to imagine but from a distance, we can only offer support and sympathy as they reconcile their losses and plan for the future. Despite the support of the Earthquake and War damage fund and private insurances, money will never repair the losses and damage sustained by many small business enterprises nor the personal psychological effects of this event. Ongoing after shocks are constant reminders of the disaster they are coping with.
From a real estate point of view, Christchurch was a beautiful city by any standards and it is a tragedy that so many of their iconic heritage buildings are the ones that appear to have suffered the most damage. Despite the need to restore the city to its former glory as quickly as possible, I hope that the integrity and appearance of these classic buildings can be recovered.
There would be very few people who would have predicted that such a disaster would descend on Christchurch, after all, floods and major earthquakes are usually associated with overseas locations and while newsworthy, generally we pay scant attention to them. Hitting so close to home as this earthquake has, makes us appreciate the vulnerability of our own city and there will be lessons to learn in terms of preparation for a possible disaster such as this one in the capital city.
There have already been stories of personal sacrifice and the dedication of Canterbury residents towards friends and neighbours in their time of need and this will be ongoing. New Zealanders are a resilient lot and most will respond to the challenge of recovering from this disaster. Cantabrians have been led from the front by their Mayor Bob Parker who has displayed an uncanny calm and logical thinking to the recovery process. Press reports have aligned him with Rudy Giuliana, Mayor of New York at the time of the Sept 11th Terrorist attacks, though Mr Parker himself stated that he has only done what any mayor would do in a time of crisis.
With any crisis or disaster it is helpful to look for the bright side of the event and in this situation, the good news was obviously the lack of any loss of life. With the extent of the destruction, it is remarkable that no losses were sustained and we can all be thankful for that. The events as they have unfolded can only make us appreciate just how precious life is and to enjoy what we have. Another positive will undoubtedly be the creation of vast amounts of work for the construction industry.
Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to all involved in the earthquake and we extend our sincere best wishes for a return to normality as soon as possible. With 100,000 homes needing either repairs, strengthening or in some case demolition and replacement, this will take time though. Our thoughts are with you all.
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