‘Stay strong, Christchurch,’ is the message posted everywhere. People are nervous, of course. When a brief aftershock rattled the windows at 10pm, I tucked my mobile phone under the pillow, remembering those who’d been able to send text messages after being trapped. Of course I didn’t need it. Continue reading
Tag Archives: earthquake
Two little stories seem to me to sum up this country and its people.
A tour bus pulled up as I emerged from a quick lunch at The Thirsty Weta cafe. Elderly passengers alighted and stood around in a semi circle, as if expecting some event to begin. I pushed between them and walked on towards where my car was parked, then noticed little knots of people standing up and down the main street of the little town. The flags were at half mast.
I stopped too. An older couple bustled out of the Mitre 10 hardware store. The woman tugged her husband’s sleeve. ‘Stan, stand still!’ ‘Why?’ asked Stan, setting down the plank of wood he was carrying. ‘Christchurch,’ she whispered.
It was 12.51, the time it happened, exactly a week ago.
There’s little happy news from Christchurch in this morning’s New Zealand Herald, but there is one good story:
To raise money for the relief effort, Phil Johnson is auctioning the 30 tonne boulder that rolled down the hill and smashed its way into his home. ‘Rocky’ is advertised as ‘a landscape feature designed to create an indoor/outdoor flow’. Mr Johnson has had plenty of enquiries and comments, including one from a woman who thought Rocky sounded like her ex – ‘no personality, stoned all the time, sits on his arse and does nothing and I guarantee the TV remote is under him somewhere.’
Phil believes it’s a welcome distraction for people and it’s giving his fingers a good workout, ‘which is just as well because my gym’s been destroyed.’
Since I wrote about my plans to visit Christchurch, some people have contacted me asking about whether they should postpone or cancel travel to New Zealand. I’m writing from Sydney and have no special inside knowledge, but I have been watching the media and searching the internet for news of the transport and accommodation situation.
The loss of life is tragic, the search for victims is heartbreaking and rebuilding parts of Christchurch will take years. Naturally the media images focus on the worst affected areas, and give the impression that the entire city is a pile of rubble. But an estimated 85-90% of buildings suffered no major damage, and the stoical, resilient Cantabrians are keen to get back to normal as soon as they can.
Christchurch Airport is open and operating both domestic and international flights. Some changes of schedule are being advised.
The city centre is closed except to emergency services. Naturally sightseers would only get in the way and are strongly discouraged.
Hotels : Some, particularly those in the centre of town, are badly damaged. Others are structurally fine, but without water and gas and are therefore temporarily closed, they hope for just a week. However, according to my sample, most accommodation in the greater Christchurch area is open as usual, with many hotels and motels posting good news to that effect on their websites. Some advise those with bookings to ring, rather than email, to get a faster update.
The rest of New Zealand, including the region surrounding Christchurch, while no doubt emotionally touched by the disaster, was physically unaffected.
The bottom line is, unless locals advise me to postpone, I’ll be going ahead with my New Zealand trip this week and urge others to do the same. Make a generous donation to the relief effort, see a beautiful country, meet warm friendly people and spend some money. The Kiwis deserve it.
Along with all Australians, I’ve been watching in dismay as the Christchurch earthquake tragedy unfolds. We’re supposed to have a rivalry with the Kiwis, but it’s a country we love and we have many New Zealand friends. It’s not right or fair, but it’s only natural that Australians should empathise with New Zealanders even more strongly than with victims of tragedies in farther-flung parts of the world. Continue reading