Thursday, December 1, 2011

Out in the 'burbs

I hang around in the western side of Christchurch. All the things we do are either in the south west or the north west. We have got quite used to life here. The roads in some places are a bit bumpier than previously - it is harder to balance a plate of uncovered biscuits on your knee, over to someone's house. Houses are getting hazard management signs stuck to their fences as repairs get underway. Most of the commercial buildings that fell down have been removed. We are watching new ones go up and refurbishments happen for businesses from the inner city starting up in new premises.
We have also been watching the house down the road get lifted and repiled. It is into its fourth week of repairs but it is now back down on its foundations. It is all very much in recovery, getting on with life and looking to the future.
A few weeks ago for the fireworks we went over to Brighton. I hadn't been near there since February. We parked in a street which was now in the residential red zone. The grass was up to the windows of the houses. There was still dry, fine, liquefacton silt through the long grass on the side of the road. The street was really an unsealed road. We cross the bridge which has holes and broken concrete at each end, where the bridge had rammed into the banks in the shaking. Two plastic pipes snaked their way over the bridge that we climbed over several times in our crossing. Quite a few businesses were still stickered shut.
Last week I had to go up the back of Sumner. Once in Sumner, we drove up a narrow corridor of two storey shipping containers, that protected the road from the cliff and then we had to detour off as the road was closed. We were going up on the hill and we walked the last bit because again there were containers that made it too narrow to drive through. The Evans Pass road over the hill was still shut. A sewer pumping truck was at work down on the flat. It was just a different world. Designer houses were red stickered. Houses we would have lusted after, now we were very glad not to own but we felt so sorry for owners. Houses that were so well kept, now had overgrown grass and loose bits of tape across the driveway and labels of danger, do not enter.
The contrast was staggering. It can even be in one street. I went down Cambridge Terrace - the little piece that I seldom travel between Barbados and Fitzgerald. As I turned behind the Barbados Street cemetery I saw the back wall of the cemetery was lying on the footpath and the grassy bank was just tumbling down on top of it. The road was also bumpy, cracked and sliding towards the river. I had to drive carefully and as I went round the curves of the river, I saw a wooden seat on the river bank now at quite an angle towards the river - no longer a place to sit comfortably and enjoy the view. But at the end of the street, the road was fine, the houses looked perfect and they had a lovely view of the river. It feels a lottery who got badly hit and who got off comparatively lightly.
We've had Fletchers and our contract builder are here assessing the property for repair. Probably in April or March next year but now we have to be assessed by an engineer first to check our floor situation. The long tail of the disaster just keeps on going.
The aftershocks are pretty minor now, though we've had about 3 of around 3.4 in a few days last week (so enough to feel but not enough to really react to). One was in the evening and we could hear it coming, in the morning Lucy said she was lying in bed and heard it coming too and she wasn't sure if it was going to be a big one, so she hid under her duvet. When it arrived it wasn't very big so she didn't bother to come out, she just settled herself back down to go to sleep.

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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.