24 February 2011

Christchurch Earthquake 2011

In Timaru, 160 Km south of Christchurch, as soon as the shaking started I grabbed my son and waited in a safe location for either the house to collapse around us or the shaking to stop. Thankfully the shaking stopped and I put my son down. My mind immediately went to Christchurch, the most likely source of the quake. If it was this bad in Timaru what was it like up there?

I knew there were two possibilities, a quake from the west which we feel easily and thus would not affect Christchurch greatly, or one centred to the South East which are not normally felt this far south, and thus a huge event for Christchurch. I was not happy to say the least when I looked it up and saw it was a South East quake of 6.3 only 5 metres deep. I knew without even seeing the images, that Christchurch had been hit bad.

Then half an hour later the shaking began again, this time ending with a large rolling motion as though the office's concrete floor was an airbed floating on a gentle wave. Another big one and Christchurch was just getting over the first. I desperately wanted to get images, but my satellite dish in my rental home is not working and the Internet was suffering from the huge surge in use plus the probable damage to the phone network which is centralised in Christchurch. When I did finally get there, the first one was of the Cathedral minus the spire, I was now shocked emotionally as well as physically, for the Cathedral is Christchurch.

And I am still in shock from the turn of events since Tuesday 1pm. My heart and prayers go out to those in Christchurch, and all those around the world that have lost loved ones in the latest quake.

As I stated on an Amazon Thread, September 4, 2010 was Canterbury's quake, we all suffered building damage. February 2011, though, is Christchurch's own. But they need not be on their own, I know the entire New Zealand population are with them at the moment. And those of the world as well are praying and giving messages of encouragement to the people involved in this disastrous event.

But even on saying that I have a personal involvement in the quake as well. Thankfully I do not know anyone personally that is missing or dead, but I do know friends of friends, or relatives of friends who are. Employees of a local firm that I know the owner of, known to be buried, a school friend's sister whose whereabouts are unknown.

But apart from the people which is the main loss as they cannot be replaced. I spent 4 years in Christchurch in the late 80s when major developments were taking place. As an architectural nut I watched as these buildings began from the foundations up. I know of two that are doomed, one a 26 storied hotel, is currently on the brink of collapse, just waiting for the after shock that would be the last straw. I have spent many days by the cathedral which has now lost its iconic spire. Will it be rebuilt or will Christchurch lose their symbol that has been part of every Cantabrian's life?

It seems materialistic to mourn buildings when so many are mourning loved ones, but I love Christchurch as a city and to me it is though a loved one has suffered a major soul destroying accident. Though the human souls themselves are the loss that people will continue to suffer as new buildings replace the old and Christchurch once more becomes its own.

Another personal attachment is living in Canterbury. We were very lucky in Timaru shaken but not stirred, and Christchurch was well stirred. Yet there is an uneasy feeling that this may not be the end. Is there worse to come? I found myself nervous about going to the supermarket today, what if the shakes come again, this time as bad as Christchurch?

I know, as with September, that this feeling will subside. The truck passing on the road above is not another earthquake coming. I will cease to be a finely tuned seismic device and start living normally again. But I also know this time it is different, people lost their lives and it was a second one that was worse than the first. It just makes it more believable that there could be a third even worse in strength and, like September, this time Timaru maybe in its sights as well as poor ravaged Christchurch.

The sobering thought is if a small shake has done this to my thought processes what must it be like for those in Christchurch who have not only gone through a much more violent shake but are still being shaken around every twenty minutes by quite violent aftershocks? We can not underestimate the psychological damage this has wrought upon my fellow Cantabrians further north.

6 comments:

  1. As the body count increases I am realising the irrelevance of property damage. It is sad that the look of Christchurch will change but it is a far greater tragedy that so many people were caught under the buildings that used to grace Christchurch’s streets.

    Yet the occasional survival story allows one to feel not so down. The lady from Waimate (pop Approx 3,000, 200 Km south of Christchurch) who was in the PGG offices for the first day of her working career, pulled alive from the rubble 9 hours after the quake. The man who had finished working beneath his car an hour before the quake struck, he counts himself very lucky.

    Then there are the helpers’ stories, a homeless couple being given a $1000 in an envelope by a stranger. Oamaru (240 Km south) ladies driving up with their mobile coffee van filled with beans and home made cakes from the locals just to give the Christchurch people a real coffee break.

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  2. Earthquakes do change ones outlook on life. Now Japan struggles also. Is this what it takes to bring the world together?

    I joined the A to Z Challenge and saw your blog listed so I just stopped in to say "Hi". I look forward to reading your alphabet posts in April.

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  3. Christchurch has indeed been very lucky when compared to Japan. If the quake had been further east and in the ocean Christchurch would have feared much worse being very low lying. A giant wave could easily wipe the entire Christchurch area as it is all low lying flat land.

    My heart goes out to all those affected over there and I am happy our Urban Rescue teams were able to fly over and give a hand.

    Also thanks for the reminder, I almost forgot with everything going on here.

    Cheers

    Peter

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    ~Deirdra

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