PM tours flood-hit businesses

John Key met flood-hit business owners in Christchurch this morning. Photo from @johnkeypm
John Key met flood-hit business owners in Christchurch this morning. Photo from @johnkeypm
Prime Minister John Key has today seen firsthand the damage wrought by the bad weather that has hammered Christchurch, telling flooded businesses to "hang in there". But many have had enough.

"How many times do we have to do this?" an exasperated and upset hair salon owner, Kimberley Heywood, said this morning.

She endured the earthquakes and has lost track of how many times she's mopped up liquefaction.

She has been unable to get business insurance since the quakes, claiming that insurance companies haven't been willing to take the risk on her St Albans salon.

"I'll never get insurance now," the 26-year-old says, inspecting a sodden box of hair straighteners, which she fears will be damaged, and at $240 a pop, a write-off.

"I've had enough. It's three years on and things aren't getting any better.

"It makes me think twice about putting up with it.

"It's horrible and not fair. This was supposed to be my big break..."

Mr Key flew into Christchurch this morning to inspect the aftermath of the once-in-a-century storm cut off some homes and forced the evacuation of others.

Along with Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, he treaded gingerly through sodden shops - a Subway, chemist, butchers, fruit and vege shop, hairdressers, sushi bar, noodle bar, and a cafe and bakery.

In front of the TV cameras and photographers, he pitched in to help with a mop in the chemist.

"Hang in there, won't you," he told the shop owners and staff working to mop up after the torrential rain which poured over their sandbags and flooded their shops.

"I really feel for the people of Christchurch," Mr Key said.

He said he appreciated it must be frustrating for people to continuously deal with natural disasters beyond their control.

"[But] I still believe, fundamentally, there is an enormous level of optimism in Christchurch."

Not for many donning gumboots and mopping up today.

Sudesh Kumar, owner of Tandoori Palace on Hills Rd, is fed up.

The entire street was a river yesterday, even higher than last year's flooding which hit the area.

"We'll tidy up and try and open tonight," he said, showing the high water mark about 15cm high throughout his takeaways shop.

"There's always something to deal with... It makes me twice about staying and working here. It's hard.

"Everybody thinks the same - it can happen again."

Christchurch City Council accepts there needs to be a reassessment of the flood risk modelling.

Some residents have criticised the council over its response to the storm, with some saying the council knew about the flood risks but did not respond adequately with sandbags.

Mr Key told said the flood risks need to be addressed.

The quakes, and resulting liquefaction, had resulted in the land dropping in many areas, making homes and shops more flood prone.

Residents, Mr Key said, wanted "certainty and clarity" over their future, and to judge "how viable it is for them to stay where they are".

- By Kurt Bayer of APNZ

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