The reason I didn’t stay in Greymouth was because I was making good time and I thought it would be fun to spend some time in Christchurch and see what damage had taken place during the two earthquakes that have hit the city in recent years.
I remember the news coverage in the UK and thinking what a disaster it was. I remember that there was some news about people dying and buildings collapsing! However I was not expecting what I saw and I can only imagine the destruction and devastation that followed the the two quakes at the time.
Now some of my friends may remember the floods that hit Carlisle back in 2004 and how much devastation had hitter city! That disaster did take quite a few years to recover from and the word disaster maybe a little strong considering other scenarios around the world… Boxing Day tsunami, Japanese Tsunami to name a few in recent history!
However, remembering the floods and what it had taken to repair the city both physically and emotionally really has put into perspective the task at hand for the people of Christchurch.
Nearly two years on and the city Center is still classed as a ‘red zone’! There are builders and machinery everywhere! ‘No public access’ signs are everywhere, guarded by army officers from what I could see, but I was unable to get close enough to determine this, so I could be wrong.
Street after street is in utter devastation! Entire blocks are levelled and nothing is built in its place! Buildings with blinds blowing in the wind because the glass has been knocked out and buildings totally collapsed next to one another. Others are showing as fronts which are supported by huge steal pillows to support the facade whilst the new building is being built directly behind it!
The roads are in total disrepair! There are bumps, cracks and botch jobs just to make the road usable. But driving around Christchurch is like being on a roller coaster!
From what I have read and seen on the local news the local government are trying to do their best to save as much as possible bit whilst I haw been here the famous cathedral has been torn down in the name of safety! The local government have stated that the building was beyond repair and was it deemed best to pull it down! The building was a national landmark and I’m sure there will be something to commemorate it in the future.
However, I have painted a pretty dull picture but not all is lost! I have found the people in Christchurch are very optimistic for the future. It’s a chance to build a new city and really put Christchurch back on the map! Where there was once building mini little social projects have appeared. Things such as a BMX course, a reading club that uses an old shop fridge to store the books, a local arts project, a bric-a-brac yard sale, the list goes on. The local people are making the best of a very bad situation no matter what the circumstances are and it truly is inspiring to see.
The local retail business or high street no longer exists but there is anproject called ‘Re:Start’. this project includes steel containers stacked on top of one another to make shops. They are all painted bright colours and really work quite well, the whole project has a wonderful urban vibe which I think would be a shame to loose.
To get the city back to its best it will most likely gonna take 5-10 years but I’m sure the plan is much shorter than this. To build buildings doesn’t take long but to remember the lives lost and generate an atmosphere of the same magnitude, takes a life time.
Christchurch lost 185 lives on 22nd February 2011 and I’m sure that rebuilding the city will be in their honour.
Christchurch I wish you all the best