It’s been a whole year since the devastating earthquake that rocked Christchurch on February 22nd 2011. Christchurch had been experiencing many aftershocks since the 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit on September 4th 2010.
The 6.3 earthquake in February was the worst of these aftershocks, causing the death of 185 people. Leaving families and friends with lost loved ones. People without homes, businesses and jobs.
It didn’t crush the spirit of Canterbury but with over 10,000 aftershocks and no end in sight, it is sure to be chipping away at it.
Last Sunday night on 60 minutes, they showed a story containing footage of the minutes after the quake that hit the city at 12:51 that day. I found out about this on facebook and watched the comments of family and friends as they watched scenes they had never seen. Many Cantabrians were without power for quite some time following the quake. Most were a bit busy being the story, instead of watching it.
Feb 19 – Aftershock – Stories – Story Archive – 60 Minutes – Shows – TV3 You can watch it here.
I remember watching most of this footage on the news. It was all I could do from Melbourne. We sat in shock, glued to the TV for days. My Dad was supposed to be coming to visit and we had booked a holiday home in Rye for the weekend. He couldn’t make it as the building housing his shop fell down around him. He made it out alive and went back in to save Brewster, his pet cockatiel .
We still went to the holiday home and sat glued to the TV there. We watched the death toll climb and cried. A lot. We were lucky not to have lost anyone close to us.
I wrote this post the day after the quake. I was sad and angry.
|Where I worked before moving to Melbourne.
Photo by Geof Wilson
When we went back home recently for a holiday, we saw what was left of the city. Some suburbs look like nothing happened there at all. Some parts look like someone came through and stole all the chimneys and left everything else. Some suburbs still have portaloos outside. Some suburbs have been “redzoned” and are set for complete demolition. Some parts of the city have gaps. Gaps that used to hold houses, shops, churches and restaurants. Some of those gaps I could remember easily what used to be there. Some I only knew that there was once something there, but couldn’t remember what, exactly.
When Darren and I drove past the first house we lived in together and saw that out of a row of four town houses, ours was the only one that had fallen, it felt bizarre. Like a piece of our history was gone forever. That’s what all those gaps are.
We didn’t take a lot of photos. In some places it just felt wrong to whip out the camera.
Not being able to see the central city was hard to deal with. We wanted to see. I wanted to see the Cathedral. Most of it was still cordoned off. They started tours soon after we left. I imagine it helped give closure to a lot of people. As sad and frustrating as it was for me, not being able to enter, I can imagine the daily frustrations of those living there and dealing with the ongoing cordons and lengthy waits for rebuilds or demolitions, all while each aftershock sets things back even further.
|Cashel Mall, Shipping Container Shops.|
I recently heard that they had started bulldozing houses in Bexley, a suburb in the east of Christchurch. Next time we visit our hometown, it will be very different, with some suburbs no longer existing. Entire neighbourhoods only a memory.
My heart still breaks for Christchurch, but my favourite part of the visit home was seeing the colourful containers in Cashel St. These funky shipping containers serve as a temporary shopping centre and house some great stores and coffee shops. It’s refreshing in the middle of cordons and rubble. As corny as it sounds, it gave me a sense of hope for the future of Christchuch.
On this anniversary I am sending love to everyone back home. Kia Kaha, Christchurch. Arohanui.