Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The long tail of natural disasters

The wonderful news at the end of last week was that we no longer have to boil the water. I didn't think much of this announcement, as I thought we had a pretty good routine but it is much more normal just brushing your teeth from the tap and using the big stock pot for cooking, rather than just in the constant rotation of boiling or storing boiled water.
Every day since September I am very thankful we live in a first world country. There is always improvements going on with infrastructure. Roads that I drive on regularly, keep improving as they are repaired or at least remediated to a point, that makes them less of a slalom course and less likely to be further damaged. While not everyone may be happy with solutions that are happening, there are constant solutions being provided. We are so lucky to live in this country.
But it does take a long time. Media move on to new disasters around the world and the people here keep on dealing with stuff - day in, day out.
The more severely damaged Eastern suburbs keep getting the harsh end of the situation. They have to deal with the severely, damaged sewerage system and less robust, repaired power network. But the sewerage treatment works are in the East - all our sewerage, whether in the system or overflowing into rivers has to go east and encounter the more damaged areas. I still keep being surprised by events or even Lucy's school being much nearer to me. But I am in the west - everything is coming to the west, to avoid the damage. Great if you live west - difficult if you don't.
On Sunday afternoon I walked past people emptying a covered trailer into new premises. Lawyers offices have popped up all over the place in suburban areas. The new Christchurch continues to emerge.
We can get into more of our inner city now but not the heavily damaged "red zone". We have to wait for October for that. It seems so far away but that is the long tail of these things.
The aftershocks we are having, quite intermittently now, are pretty small. Most seem to be more noise than shake. I had thought after September I would never worry about an earthquake again. But now, even these tiny ones cause a bit of back straightening. We are very aware of the movements in our surroundings - we don't duck for cover or even check how big it was, anymore but it seems like our bodies note it and are ready, if required to react. I find myself getting very irritated if someone is doing something that repeatedly makes a bang or thump. I get annoyed at my body overreacting even though I know what it is.
It is sad watching more and more buildings being demolished. When I put together this historic walk in July last year, I had no idea that the Carlton Hotel, where it starts would have to be demolished less than a year later. They are only buildings but there are many stories that went with them.
I hope the new buildings that end up being built are interesting and unique enough to generate their own stories.

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5 Favourite Sights Seen

  • 1996 Watching tropical lightning turn night to day, outside a little wooden church in a small village in Sabah.
  • 2004 Flying down the Rainbow Valley at 8000ft in a cessna on a clear blue day.
  • 2003 Seeing and hearing Michael Schmacher rolling out of the pit garage in his Ferrari in Hungary.
  • 2009 Chancing upon 100 or more dolphins just off the Kaikoura Coast swimming around, jumping out of the water, doing somersaults and generally having fun.
  • 2006 Finding a pool at the bottom of a waterfall in the bush at Kaikoura that was full of playing baby seals.