Monday, April 2, 2012

I'm Back...

I'm just back from four days down in Christchurch staying with my parents who still live there despite having lived through over 10,000 earthquakes since September 2010. I did feel one when I was down there... a little 3.77 so it barely counted. (There were 4 others while I was there but I didn't feel them).
The bonus for my weekend was my sister, Keryn, driving down from Nelson with her three sons, (Jordan - 6, Dallas - 4 & Troy - 1) so they could also spend some time with Auntie Paula.
I did get a little crafting done while I was down there and will post some pictures in a day or two. I also managed to visit one scrapbook shop, a lady I have brought many a bargain off via TradeMe - Maz of Craft E-Stuff. I had a stamp to collect I won in an auction as well as spending some time trolling through her stock.
My Dad was kind enough to take me out on a couple of "Tours of Christchurch" to see the damage. To put this into perspective he said... "We'll take my 4 x 4, cos Mum's car can't travel on some of the roads." And a couple of times we did need to engage the extra grunt and we were definitely grateful for the higher wheelbase of the Suzuki.
I took heaps of photos... hello, I'm a scrapbooker... and am really looking forward to adding these to my mini journal I created but I wanted to share some of the photos that really touched me first.

River Road, Richmond - This used to be an asphalt road that followed the meandering Avon River... now it looks more like a shingle pit. This is red zone land. The houses are boarded up and the gardens are over grown. It's almost deserted except for the tankers pumping out the sewerage where the pipes have broken. While some roads look and feel normal, others like this are like riding an uncomfortable roller coaster on wooden seats over hidden rises and dips in the track.
River Road, Richmond - This used to be a perfectly good curbing and gutter beside a perfectly good asphalt road... now it looks more like a grey twig snapped by a careless tramper. The road around the Avon River has dropped so much that stop banks of shingle have had to be built up to prevent the river from adding to the existing damage. 
This used to be a foot bridge... now it looks like a new age, art nouveau twisted steel sculpture. 
Throughout the suburb of Sumner this is all you can see at the bottom of any cliffs... a long line of double height containers designed to catch any rubble that falls from the cliffs... including the houses teetering precariously on the edge of what is left of their back yard. In some areas the containers are backed up by concrete K-rails for added strength.
What is left is of one of the pubs in Lyttleton. Most of the pubs in this suburb look to be closed for good. As this is a port town, there were a fair few pubs. This picture also shows that despite what has happened, life still goes on. Washing still hangs, drying amongst the ruins.
A number of older buildings around the city seem to be held up (or together) by sheer brute force. Steel rails and concrete blocks hold this building and the one below together, as much as possible.
Trying to save what you can... but is it too little too late? 
Madras Street, between Gloucester and Armagh Streets. I remember both sides of this street filled with multi-storey buildings... now they are empty plots. 
Broken windows or boarded up windows. You can still see so much shattered glass just lying on the ground in front of the building. 
This used to be the yard of one of Christchurch's most prestigious car dealers. Now it looks like a demolition yard.
Not sure if this is High Street or Tuam Street from St Asaph Street... I just don't recognise it any more. (High Street I think though). The buildings have all lost their farcades. At the intersection of High St and St Asaph St is a sign "Please save High Street".
Damaged beyond repair. So many streets especially in the CBD are still closed, though Dad did say they are opening up more and more as the days and weeks pass. 
The Oxford Clinic being demolished. 
Twisted pile of steel and rubble. I don't know what it was other than a multi-storey building near the CBD. 
St Knox Church down Bealey Avenue. As I drove from the airport to my parent's house, this was the first sign of any real damage I saw. Prior to this I had seen temporary fences, lots of road works, the odd fence and light post on a lean but it all looked pretty tame to me, then I saw this. As I drove back past later in the day we slowed for the traffic lights. I glimpsed and saw the shimmer of what looked like a gold or silver medalian hanging from one of the columns inside the Church. It was only small, maybe just an inch or so, oval or round. I don't know how it got there or who put it there, but I'd like to think that it was the medal of some Patron Saint and that it protected someone in times of need.
This is the memorial of 185 White Chairs. One chair for each person who lost their life as a result of the earthquake on 22 February 2011. There are several notices explaining to visitors what the chairs represent. You are invited to leave a message in the remembrance book or sit in any of the chairs for a moment or two of contemplation.
There are so many sights, so many pictures I have taken or could have taken. There is so much to look at and to feel that it gets a bit overwhelming. It was hard to see my home town looking like this, though it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. My timing had a lot to do with that... the worst of the clean up is over, there was no liquifacation nor the panic of being in the middle of a crisis. The scar are there on the land and the people, just some are more visible than others.
I love you Christchurch.

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