On the ground Quake account – No.2
By Kip Brook
People are exhausted; but they keep going.
They are filthy, covered in the liquefaction which dries white. There is no escaping it. Clean it off and it is back one
out in the streets. Cars are filthy. I have a row of shoes at the door covered in white powdered liquefaction.
Supermarkets are open but still unclean. The stuff spreads everywhere.
Most of us don’t watch tv any more here, it’s too difficult and doesn’t help us cope. People from afar don’t see the
full picture on tv.
We are facing greater difficulties getting the city up and running. Few have jobs; few businesses open outside the CBD.
Many of the schools have suffered massive damage. Christchurch Girls High on the banks of the Avon on the airport side
of Hagley Park is one of several schools that is severely shattered. Principals and teachers across the city have begun
phoning around to match up enough teachers and pupils so they know when school can begin. But some teachers have
partners, family or friends who are victims of February 22. And many schools are in too bad a shape to consider opening
for a long time.
So many roads are impassable or dangerous .
It’s frightening to think that 36,000 people left the city by plane in the first three days; many people by car. Some
who fled may return; others have no home, no job, no future to return to. You can’t blame families with young children.
There’s nobody to blame over this and people respect how everyone reacts; except the tiny number of looters. We heard of
one person was waiting near an ATM for someone to withdraw money then rush over and rip it off them and run.
It’s where to start...with so many hurdles. My wife Chrissy and I could not leave Christchurch for a long time yet; with
so much to do.
Some things are returning to normal. Petrol stations and supermarkets open. How can you tell a supermarket has been
rocked heavily by an earthquake: The smell of wine inside.
A fleet of big trucks, stacked containers, temporary fuel bins, diggers and equipment from Mid-Canterbury have set up
base in a local supermarket car park. They have begun scooping up the piles of liquefaction people have shovelled out of
their properties and piled on the edges or shattered roads which look like scenes out of the Middle East. The diggers
can’t keep up. The sound of helicopters rattles the windows; the house shakes as the big trucks roll back and forth
constantly removing rubble from the city close by. This is a city on a knife-edge.
The birds and crickets have returned after some of our darkest days. Christchurch people are strong and resilient, at
the moment. We talk to everyone and ask how they are and if they need a hand. Those that can live in a house, no matter
how badly ruined, are the lucky ones. Many robust homes that survived September 4 are totally shattered by the force of
February22’s earthquake. The amount of fallen bricks, broken homes and city buildings seem 20 times greater than in
September. Words of support and knowing people outside are concerned keeps us going.