I have an entire folder of photographs showing damage, demolition or vacant plots. Too many for right here right now.
Only time will tell how things are going to pan out in Christchurch: how much will be rebuilt and where.
In the meantime residents of the city live with their experiences of the quakes, damaged homes, damaged work places and general infrastructure.
It’s the simple things that people find most frustrating: for instance my Father used to have a supermarket in his neighbourhood, it was damaged beyond repair and so it’s been demolished and hopefully it will be rebuilt soon.
In the meantime he has to travel around closed and damaged streets to supermarkets in other neighbourhoods to do his grocery shopping and it’s usually crowded because everyone else is doing the same, sometimes people get angry and frustrated in the supermarket: … the out-workings of stress.
If a small aftershock hits when he’s inside the supermarket across town then often terrified children start screaming and if the shock is big enough customers are immediately evacuated and the building closed until an inspection can be done, regardless of wither or nor he managed to get his veggies, milk and bread.
It’s how things should be for public safety of course, but it doesn’t make for easy or stress-free day to day living.
Friends said when the big quakes of September 2010 and February 2011 hit, the ground shook so hard they had trouble standing upright, during the Feb quake one friend tried to hang onto a wall but it was moving back and forth so much that that wasn’t really possible either, she and a work colleague were close enough to each other to brace themselves against each other whilst the shop contents fell around them.
We own a house in the city, in Papanui and we and our tenants were very lucky, there was no liquefaction on our property but there was plenty just a few houses further down the street. There but for the grace of God go we.
Most of our roof tiles are cracked, the chimney is gone and there are more cracks than I care to count in the stone exterior cladding… insurance will pay to have the entire house re-clad and there is a very long list of small repair jobs but fortunately nothing major and the place is perfectly habitable. (emergency work to keep the roof watertight was done immediately).
The steps to the back door have larger cracks, we got off very lightly (after an initial scare that one series of cracks might have been an indication of very serious structural damage to the foundations… we consulted an engineer and luckily this turned out to be just more on the list of lesser damage).
I wonder what will happen to the clock tower in the old railway station building on Moorhouse Avenue (the station’s long since been converted into a multiplex picture theatre but the building is another of the cities landmarks)
What will happen to the churches who’s steeples stand forlornly on the ground next to the remains of the towers? Or the Old Book Exchange building?
Since the sign by Scorpio Books in the central city warns of extreme danger I don’t hold out any hope that this building will still be here next time I step off the plane. It too used to be a favourite haunt.
We are about to leave Christchurch and New Zealand… and return to the Netherlands where our kids won’t have to fear that the ground is about to let rip without warning beneath them. Little Mr. especially is delighted to be heading to the airport.
…One final look around… Church, Harewood Road, Bishopdale…
Church, Main North Road, Papanui…
The Boulevard restaurant (building at 78 Hereford Street) in the central city…
Scorpio’s right across the road…
The Book Exchange…