Living in the Red Zone

MMMM where to start. Christchurch in the RED ZONE

It never ceases to amaze me how resilient people are under extreme stress and post a traumatic experience. This is what I witnessed when travelling last week to Christchurch. Having family who live in the RED ZONE  we could not wait any longer to see how they were surviving. What an emotional experience.

Without realising it here in beautiful and relatively safe Australia, it was the first anniversary of the earthquake that gripped the city of Churches in September last year.

The facts:

  • Christchurch has experienced over 8000 aftershocks in the last year
  • 564 million hits on GeoNet in the 6 days post the earthquake
  • 86 Heritage buildings have to be demolished
  • 241 buildings to be demolished
  • 54,000 tonnes of liquefaction silt had to be removed post the earthquake in Sept 2010
  • 322,000 tonnes of liquefaction silt had to be removed post the 22nd Feb 2011 earthquake
  • 5548 vehicles were removed from the Christchurch CBD
  • 305,000 insurance claims since the Sept earthquake

This photo is of one of the homes we drove by in Sumner, teetering on the edge of a steep embankment that had collapsed under the wrath of the most recent earthquake.

Travelling through out the Red Zone where all properties large and small are to be demolished, about 6000 residents are to be displaced with having to find the energy and focus to find a new home.

Many suburbs old and newly constructed are almost deserted and many many people congregate in the streets still to talk about their experiences, grateful for surviving, taking comfort from each other, sharing their similar stories and finding a way to accept their street and community is never to be the same again as they are dispersed all over the Island.

On the day of the September quake our family tell us,  they walked to other family members in the same neighbourhood a couple of kms away, finding that because of the liquefaction it took hours to get there and back. They just needed to know the family was ok, giving up their own risks, concerns and shock to think of others. They were then without power, water or sewerage facilities for over 3 weeks. Can you imagine that! They lived in their caravan in the back yard too scared to enter the house to sleep for fear there would be another quake and the house would be at the mercy of mother nature.

We were told to sleep with our clothes and head torch at the ready in case of another aftershock or even worse earthquake  in the middle of the night as we slept peacefully unaware of what was happening beneath the  earth’s surface.

With one eye at the ready,  sleep came albeit with caution. Yes whilst there, we did  experience an aftershock as if a large giant was holding the large building we were  in and giving it a good shake just to ensure its habitants did not become too  comfortable and complacent and think the earth was finally at peace again.

Interestingly its participants merely looked at each other, breath stopping for a  moment in anticipation of the next large quake, looked at each other and said its ok, just a small one!!!

Shedding tears came so easily, yet with hesitation not really knowing what the community of Christchurch has really been through. Feeling guilty of not being able to do enough. Standing behind the temporary fencing peering up the deserted and lonely streets of Chistchurch CBD trying to understand how this could happen in modern society.

Their resilience, their sharing of stories, their ability to keep going day by day not knowing what is next is nothing short of heroic. The community is many ways is tired, unknowing of what lies ahead, wanting to create a hope for the future, a normal future.

Our very best wishes go out to the community of Christchurch.

This dedication is to you for your bravery, compassion, love and holding onto hope as you rebuild your community and your lives. To those we visited, our hearts go out to you and you will never be far from our thoughts and help.