That was a less than enjoyable night.

We had some major aftershocks during the night with the first one hitting shortly after 11pm. I had just gone to bed and promptly decided that sleeping on the couch was a far batter idea.

These aftershocks are simply adding to the already considerable stress people are undergoing. People are anxious and frightened and its all been compounded by the lack of sleep. I visited a former neighbour yesterday and she was in a state of shock - even though her home had escaped any significant damage. Fortunately she has her son and a daughter-in-law who can provide her with support.

It needs to remembered - and I've certainly been reminding myself over the past few days - is that 80 percent of earthquake deaths are caused by collapsing buildings. Thanks to our building codes - which have property developers have often found 'frustrating' and 'bureaucratic' - Christchurch has suffered no fatalities.

There has been a lot of uninformed comment about earthquakes which have done nothing to alleviate stress levels.

The person who has impressed me the most is seismologist Dr Warwick Smith of the earthquake monitoring system GeoNet. He has been studying earthquakes for over thirty years and his comments have been authoritative, thoughtful and reassuring.

He hasn't engaged in destructive speculation and he has be quick to dispel some of the myths about earthquakes which have contributed to people's fears.

I see that the not-very=dynamic Gerry Brownlee has been appointed the minister in charge of earthquake recovery.

That doesn't fill me with confidence and nor was I impressed with his comment that the 10,000 people who are uninsured will have to show 'genuine hardship' to get any money out of the Government.

What planet is Brownlee on? He expects that people who have had their houses demolished to prove 'genuine hardship.' ? Does Brownlee pull the wings off flies as well?

Also, the $5 million contribution to the Christchurch City Council's hardship fund is a drop in the bucket - especially since the Government was able to find $1.6 billion to stop South Canterbury Finance going into meltdown.

A friend of mine, already stressed, has had to apply for the unemployment benefit because the earthquake has scuttled a temporary job he would of been starting next week.

In the aftermath of New Zealand's biggest earthquake since 1931 and Christchurch far from anything resembling normalcy, WINZ expect him 'not to be late for his appointment', and be 'be dressed appropriately as if he was about to begin work'.

Enough said.


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