Monday, November 15, 2010

shaken, not stirred

Has been a less-than-thrilling few days in Christchurch. Having managed to coincide with a weekend, a public holiday and a migraine I haven't made too much progress other than to see a little bit of the countryside, visit a couple of sites and experience the aftershocks of the Canterbury quake.

Shallow and in the late fours on the Richter scale they have both provided a bit of a wake-up call and a reminder of the fragility of human settlements. You drive around the streets of Christchurch and lots of things have a tarp on or bricks around it. A church sits beside it's steeple down the road...the spire obviously having been carefully craned off the rambling old building as it began to buckle.

You walk past some neighbourhoods and its hard to think that such a large quake rumbled through just a few weeks ago. And then you come across an expanse of bare land where one of the older buildings stood and were demolished, beyond repair.

Lots of streets are blocked off as areas of road are rejigged, stablised and resurfaced. Whole street corners lie bare, their fate unknown. Waiting lists for building inspections are in the months, not days or weeks.But despite all this, life goes on.Strong building laws have built a city of fairly solid abodes and low population density meant almost no injuries and not a single casualty. A smooth-running relief effort diminished the stress and grief at the time and sped the city faster to recovery and normalisation.

It's amazing to put the quake in perspective, not withstanding that the Richter is hardly a totally reliable indicator. The magnitude of the quake was not dissimilar from that that devastated Haiti (the after effects of which are just as horrific), It was substantially larger than the massively damaging Newcastle Quake of 1989 I was in, in which 13 people died. 160 people were injured and some sites still lay vacant over two decades on.

So its nice to see Christchurch the way it is...battered but not out. This is resilience...and we're lucky

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