Monday, September 06, 2010

Some days you just have to chip off the surface & see what lays beneath...

Christchurch Earthquake - Part 2

Where to start? I'm not really sure. There seems to be so much to say, so many contradictions I guess. That is what makes it surreal.

After a couple of hours sleep on & off I got up on Saturday morning to (reluctantly) get ready to go to work. It was then that the impact of the earthquake really hit home. I wanted a shower & a coffee, but of course there was no water or power.

It was then I realised how dreadfully unprepared we were for any sort of disaster & promptly added to my want list; a generator, a small radio, an unlimited supply of rechargeable batteries (all fully charged of course),  a decent cell phone (you know the sort, one with internet access), space to store non perishable goods & bottled water.....& a swimming pool, or in the very least a handy river ;)
Most importantly I realised how absolutely useless it is to have most of your money in one bank account that isn't accessible with your EFTPOS/ATM card ..& that relying on the technology of electronic funds when there is no electricity is somewhat moot anyway!
Add cold hard cash to the list.
Also add an old keypad/dial telephone - not the cordless type handset that requires power to run the docking base.
We do have one of those older phones & although we couldn't dial out for some reason I discovered that people could call us when my boss rang to tell me that there wasn't going to be any work.

My cell phone was flat & had no credit on it anyway & the car needed petrol. Fortunately Gabriela's cell phone was working (when the network wasn't overloaded) & we contacted people that way.

 Gabriela gets innovative trying to get cell phone reception

The neighbourhood I live in looked fine as I walked down to my Aunts house to check on her.It didn't seem real somehow as it was just like any other Saturday except that I wasn't at work & no one had any power... but kids were kicking balls around & people were out walking dogs even though there were still regular aftershocks occurring.

One upside to being a lampworker is that I have a good supply of propane & my tanks also fit our BBQ. Soon enough we were boiling water to make cups of tea & coffee. My Mum was here by that stage & told us of the damage over in her suburb. Listening to the radio at my Aunts house the enormity of  the damage to the city started to become apparent. But it still didn't seem real.

Later when we took Mum back to her house it was some distance before we started seeing signs of damage. There was the usual amount of Saturday traffic on the roads....that seemed normal enough. During the drive over there we passed a golf course & there were people playing golf!! I recall wondering why things appeared so normal - why were people acting as if it was just another Saturday, as if nothing had happened.
Perhaps I had dreamed the earthquake & everything up until that point.

As we got closer to Mums house I knew it was no dream. Roads were covered in silt, the river was muddy & damage to roads footpaths & fences started becoming apparent. Both Mum & her neighbours 3 year old homes have moved & are now on an angle. The house next door to them has cracked right through the middle & will have to be demolished. It is only 8 years old. Two older houses in the lower front sections have been damaged & may have to be demolished also. There is a lot of damage in her area & the other area's along side the Avon River, both to homes & roads. It was quite disheartening to see.

In my travels around the city since yesterday what has hit me the most is the fact that there seem to be concentrated area's of damage in the middle of bigger area's where there is no damage at all. 
 A lot of it has to do with the type of soil any given area is on. We are close to the coast & aside from the coastline itself there are area's scattered through Christchurch that sit on  a substrate of sand that was once (thousands of years ago) old coastline.
Under normal circumstances a sandy substrate is no problem, but when an earthquake occurs it affects the pressure of the groundwater forcing it up between the sand/silt particles causing liquefaction. In some of the residential area's this is what has occurred & what has caused the damage.

But really the important thing to remember, in my opinion, is that we are a city that is under a state of emergency, not one in utter devastation. For every image you see of destruction & damage, there would be 100 images that show buildings untouched. Lets face it the media aren't interested in showing the buildings that are intact when covering something like this.

I don't say the above lightly & I'm not attempting to trivialise what has happened, I'm simply putting it into perspective as it stands at this point. 
I realise that this city, the city of my birth, wont ever be the same again but only time will tell to what extent that change will go. It's early days yet.
The aftershocks continue, but I'm just telling myself that they are the earth trying to settle itself back down.


Linda said...

So glad you and your family are okay. When I saw this on the news, I immediately thought of you. Yes, get yourself a generator! We periodically loose power due to snowstorms or once from a "brown out" during the summer when everyone was using ac. They are so helpful and really make things liveable.
Can't really imagine how it must feel....thinking of you and happy your safe.
:) Linda

Patty said...

Deb, so glad that you and your family and loved ones are all safe and sound. We're all too familiar with the concept of liquifaction around here in the San Francisco area. I hope that your part of the world is back to normal soon, and that those who are injured are on their way to healing. Mother Earth is indeed a force to reckon with, and I can understand how you felt reassured by the constancy of the stars above during such turmoil. Do take care.

Rose said...

Hi Deb, so glad that you and yours are OK.The quake surely gave us a jolt from a deep sleep and I thought at that moment that people somewhere had felt it a lot more than we did. TV on Sat. morning what a shock and my first thoughts were that I hoped you were all OK.Will be in touch soon when things up there settle down a bit and send a big hug to you all from me and Murray.

Right Turn ArtWerks said...

Oh Deb - I haven't been watching the news in weeks. I am so sorry this has happened to you and your family.

We have lost power here but it is usually more "idiot"
(someone will shoot off an electrical insulator or something) related rather than Mother Nature. I can not imagine how it must have felt to be powerless - literally and figuratively.

We just received one of those LL Bean catalogs where they have flashlights and radios that will work after they are cranked so batteries are not necessary. At least that might be temporarily less expensive than a generator. You could put them away in an emergency pack.

Have you made an emergency family plan? I always worry that with my kids spread out in the States where we would meet in an emergency if phones were useless. Time for you to get a plan too!

Okay, sorry - I sound pushy but I don't know how you and Patty do this. It's frightening.

My heart is with you - stay safe.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting that Mother!