Christchurch earthquake

25 02 2011

Although this is not strictly a geocaching topic I have to write this as I have just returned back from another month in New Zealand and Christchurch has just suffered from another major earthquake. I have friends in Christchurch that I have known for thirty years and in the September 2010 earthquake they lost their home and suffered quite some trauma. By the time of my visit in January most of the broken pieces had been picked up and life was returning to normal. The February 22 earthquake in Christchurch, due to it’s closer and shallower proximity, has caused far more damage than the larger quake in September. Luckily only one of my friends suffered physically, with no more than severe bruising whilst being battered around in a crumbling central Christchurch building, but several more have been made homeless. Two families homes have suffered serious damage. At another one of my friends homes, water and electricity are out but they are now sheltering two of their grown up children, both mothers and sister plus husband due to their homes now being uninhabitable. Two other families that I know suffered no such damage. One of them is now housing my closest friends who have been staying at their eighty year old mothers home since September.

That home was in Lyttelton, which is where I stayed during some of my visit to NZ, and was at the epicentre of this last quake. It’s an uncomfortable surrealistic feeling to see photos of all the buildings that were already weakened in September now reduced to piles of rubble. As Lyttelton is now cut off from Christchurch and there is no water and sewerage, she has moved in with her even older sister in a safe part of Christchurch. During the time I was staying in Lyttelton I experienced two tremors that were over 4 on the Richter scale. They were very unsettling. The last quake was at 6.3 on the Richter scale. An increase of 2 units means a ground movement 100 times greater and something that I find difficult to comprehend without experiencing it, and I am sure I don’t want to. There are aftershocks on a constant frequent basis, all recorded on Geonet.

Even though the initial traumatic stage is over the city is plagued by the frequent aftershocks and the infrastructure is badly damaged. It is going to be a difficult time ahead for many. The result of the September quake was that my friends home was destined to be demolished and rebuilt. When? The demolition was due to start in April and as the whole area had to be strengthened by poling, a new home would not be available for another three years! What will happen now? I’m sure that is a question that thousands of Christchurch residents will be faced with.

My thoughts are with all those who are suffering as a result of the quake and of course I am concerned about the welfare of my friends. I don’t know if I will visit next year. Part of me wants to but another part says it will never be the same again.

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