The dust settles
Posted on Sunday 27 February 2011 at 07:33
Tomorrow it will have been a week since the quake. 7 whole days. It seems to have been fleeting in some ways, and yet interminable in others.
Yesterday, I helped my neighbour Rangi out, as his cousins place in Avonside had big holes in the roof. After feeling sad about our place, to see his was a revelation. 1 metre wide cracks in the garden, the front right of the house had subsided, the 2 chimneys had collapsed through the roof and into the lounge. In short, it was seriously messed up. He's an older chap, never bothered with insurance, so he has no EQC (earthquake commission - a govt body that effectively insures property against quakes) coverage. He just has to make do as best he can.
We spent 3 hours retiling the roof for him, re-alligning all the displaced tiles and tying then onto the battens with wire. It felt good to be helping out, even in such a small way.
We drove back along Avonside drive. What a mess that palce is. Whole sections of road have dropped 2 or 3 feet towards the river. Telegraph poles are on a 45 degree lean. Random holes have opened up in the road. Houses are missing walls, roofs, and liquefaction is all over the place. Made me realise that Hoon Hay - although a bit knackered - is not even in the same realm as poor Avonside. Many of the houses are empty after the first quake - it was all rather eerie.
I got back to Halswell, where we remain with our in-laws, and showered off the dirt. We then headed off to see our friends Dom & Gina in Parklands. They are quite near the beach, and goodness what a trip to get there. A couple of the usual roads were closed, and as we got into the housing areas you could see why - feet of silt all over the place, more broken roads, flooded houses, ruined property. The extent of it is simply mind boggling. Then we turned a corner into Dom's road and it was almost as if nothing had happened. The randomness of the quake's effects has to be seen to be believed. Really odd stuff.
We remain in Halswell and will do for a while yet. Carl, my brother inlaw, knows a builder chap who has been doing EQC building surveys and so will try and give our place the once over in the next day or two and comment on its soundness. T is not keen on a return, expecially considering the liquifaction that has gone on underneath the house itself, and hopefully this will reassure us both that it is OK. I feel that it is, and am keen to get back there but better safe than sorry and all that.
On Saturday, it was announced that as people needed to boil all water, and most folks use bottled gas for their stoves, the gas companies were giving their gas away so people could achieve clean drinking water. We had almoist run out and so took our bottles along to the Caltex station on Blenheim road. It was a couple of hours till they were filled, but I used the time to speak to all the others queuing and it was great to share stories and get some community spirit going. The staff there handed out papers and chuppa chups lollies so all were in good spirits. Good on the gas firms!
Today I am due to return to some aspect of work, with our first meeting since last Tuesday. It will be for a few hours at a local coffee shop, and I am really looking forward to catching up with everyone. I know that at least 2 of my colleagues are living elsewhere after their homes have been destroyed, and saddest of all is that my boss's sister in law is still missing. It is sounding likely that we won't be going back into the city for at least a month, and that's if our office building is still habitable. Even if it is, I don't know how many of our staff will be happy working in a 10 story building after this event. So, it will be interesting to share our thoughts on where we go to from here, and to start discovering what - if any - of our clients are still standing, let alone trading.
Still, the dust is settling and life does go on. Let's see where it actually goes to.