Monday, July 11, 2011

Peeping over the parapets

It is still quiet here. I mean we get little shakes (magnitude 3s every day or so), but we've had nothing bigger for several weeks. [Then there was 4.3 I fortunately missed while out in the car after writing this.] Anyway, it reminds me of being a youth group kid and playing defend the fort. When we used to sit there in the quiet and wonder, if another onslaught was about to come or if the other team had given up and gone off in search of snacks. Who was going to brave and peep over the top?
The problem with the quiet, is I get on with everyday things and the size of the job ahead starts to loom. I took Tristan for a bit of digger watching last week. We stopped to watch a building being demolished on Moorhouse Ave and then every street inside the cordon, we looked down had people working - a demolition, some hard hat, high viz vest, wearers going up in a crane and a big truck driving out more debri.


The cordon around the city centre has remained unchanged for quite awhile now. I looked at what a similar area would be elsewhere. It is a rectangle shape and in Auckland, a similar size would be from Karangahape Road down Queen Street to just short of Swanson Street and the width across would be from Nelson Street to Princes Street. In Wellington the rectangle would be from the Beehive to around the Michael Fowler Centre and across from the sea to around the Victoria University stop on the cable car. I had to check both of those several times - they seem like such large areas. I was thinking it would be so devastating for those cities to have that sized rectangle of the central city out of bounds. Then I realised it is that devastating to have such a large portion of your central city out of bounds but sadly I have become so used to it in the last six months. I used to go in there everyday to take Lucy to school.
The bigger problem is, that is not all the damage. I keep coming across places I haven't been and there are more damaged houses and more bumpy streets.
AMI stadium is still shut, QEII is knackered, the muesum is shut, town hall is shut, convention centre is shut, all the cool art house movie theatres are shut, The Palms mall is still shut and Eastgate is partially open. The mall situation is probably good for our city, we were so over malled but of course the ones left are not well spaced across the city. If your local shops were those cool old two story ones with old facades, they have fallen down or been badly damaged. Other newer blocks have survived better but if the land was bad, they too have suffered.
Then there is the sewerage, power and water system damage and of course, housing damage. Roughly based on Stats New Zealand data, we are in the fortunate 100,000 or so homes in the green all good to fix, residential zone, there around 5000 in the red residential zone that already know a little of their future which leaves around 10,000 in the orange zones waiting to find out which way their land is to be viewed and about 30,000 homes in white areas that have not yet been assessed to be put into an appropriate land zone. So about 3% of Christchurch homes are in the red land areas and 7% are orange. At the end of March approximately only 1% of all Christchurch residential homes were red stickered. It seems quite small (though it has probably increased following June) on the statistics level, and amazing, considering all that has happened.
On a people level it still feels enormous. I keep thinking perhaps it isn't true, we will all wake up. Then I see a building that used to be so familiar and now with large pieces just lying on the ground. Footpaths still pushed right up like the ice on the shore of a frozen lake. I find myself shaking my head in disbelief.

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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.