Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Christchurch Quake, 7.1 Magnitude, 04.09.10 & State of Emergency

QUAKE DAY: Some Christchurch suburbs. State of Emergency was declared by PM John Key later in the day.

Saturday 04.09.10. Christchurch 7.1 magnitude quake shook us awake in our Burnside beds at 4.35 am.

Power cut: Searching for matches & candles, I stumbled around our house in the dark, tripping over fallen things. Looking through our kitchen window, I saw torchlight waving around in our neighbour's house.

Books were flung off our bookshelves. Kitchen cupboard doors were popped open, nothing on the floor. In our pantry, spaghetti lay on the floor. In our passage, our ironing board was toppled. Books in son Luke's bedroom lay on the floor. No breakages, we'd survived the quake, no damages. Our cat yowled on our double bed.

Leah texted son Jake at his Waltham Rd wooden flat, which was surrounded by old brick bldgs. Jake & his girlfriend had escaped in the night to her parents' home, safer. We stayed in bed for two long hours, shaken by aftershocks, reckoning bed was safest, by an inner wall. Luke stayed in bed too.

That frosty, cloudless spring morning, we found our water cut off, we had little emergency water: a hot water cylinder full of water, which we planned to pour into our bath as drinking water; a 3 litre plastic water bottle in the garage; two 1.5 litre Coca Cola & Sprite soft drink bottles; some canned fruit juice.

I drove along Grahams Rd to Northlands Mall to buy water. People stood dazed & bewildered on pavements. The first quake damage we saw was toppled brick chimneys, loosened roof tiles & slates.

7 images, Papanui HS reservoir; Grahams Rd, Greers Rd:

04.09.10. Quake damaged reservoir, Papanui High School, by Northlands Mall

Water & stones on the road by Papanui High School reservoir, near Northlands Mall car park, showed serious quake damage. I complained to Leah: "Why are Civil Defence & the military so slow? Where are the water trucks?"

Two months post quake, the reservoir had a plumb line attached from the roof & horizontal cable braces around the reservoir. The cable braces had winch nuts attached for slowly tightening the cables & pulling the reservoir vertical again - worked something like a giant tooth brace.

We decided not to join the water queue at Pak 'n Save, as a quake zone supermarket was unsafe in aftershocks, due to items toppling off shelves. A man pushed half a trolley load of water to his home.

Back home, our water & power was still cut off, so I scrounged plastic bottles from our rubbish bin for water filling. I wanted to drive across Canterbury Plains to an Oxford friend to fetch water. Leah & I argued, but her sense prevailed. We didn't know then that the Canterbury quake had caused widespread damage to infrastructure, farmland & Canterbury towns.

04.09.10. Quake toppled garden wall, Grahams Rd

Power & water supplies returned, so I cleaned our Christchurch City Council plastic rubbish bin, the green lid organic rubbish bin, & filled it with emergency water, not knowing water may have already been sewage contaminated by burst underground pipes. Post quake for the first week, we boiled our drinking water.

04.09.10. Quake toppled garden wall by a stream, Grahams Rd / Waimairi Rd traffic circle

Leah & Luke listened to the radio & TV broadcasts about the quake, & heard a state of emergency was declared for Monday 06.09.10, a first for Christchurch. Civil Defence & cops would man cordons till then & nightly curfews would prevail. As telephone lines were jammed, & our outbox stuffed, we Facebooked family & friends, telling them we were OK.

I walked Burnside a bit to see neighbourhood quake damage: chimneys & roofs damaged, toppled garden walls, toppled power pole, snapped cable secured with DANGER tape, & broken power pole cordoned by orange, plastic, road cones. An overalled linesman on a ladder fixed overhead electric lines.

I didn't know then that orange, plastic, road cones, DANGER tape & POLICE EMERGENCY tape would soon symbolize Christchurch quake damages, countless road detours over the next decade & countless road rebuilds. Damaged bldgs were either DANGER tape or POLICE EMERGENCY tape cordoned, fenced cordoned, or orange, plastic, road cone cordoned, or 2 or 3 cordon methods were combined simultaneously. Orange & white plastic, road barriers & different coloured shipping containers were used for cordons too.

We'd soon see myriads of officious cops, Civil Defence volunteers & NZDF soldiers wearing Hi Vis vests or jackets, bossing citizens around. Orange or yellow, Hi Vis vests or jackets soon became another quake symbol of authoritarian figures, or rebuild contractors, during & after quakes.

In addition to colourful tarps covering wall & roof damages, Urban Search And Rescue / Task Force (USAR / TF) teams, wearing colourful overalls & hard hats, roamed Christchurch wielding spray-paint cans, spraying their coded graffiti on walls, doors, windows & pavements, showing they'd searched bldgs for bodies & warned others about dangers, seen or anticipated. NZ Response Teams (NZRT) wearing different coloured overalls & hard hats, also roamed, assisting USAR teams.

Colourful demolition diggers & crane trucks roamed Christchurch too.

04.09.10. Linesman fixing quake damaged power lines, Greers Rd

04.09.10. Quake toppled chimney damage to roof, Greers Rd. 5 months post quake, no repairs, slow insurance settlement

04.09.10. Quake toppled power pole cordoned by orange, plastic, road cones, Greers Rd

04.09.10. Top of quake toppled power pole, Greers Rd

6 images, Wairakei Rd, Cashmere Rd, Centaurus Rd:

04.09.10. Quake collapsed garden fence, Wairakei Rd. New fence soon built

04.09.10. Quake damage to Chinese supermarket ceiling, Cashmere Rd

04.09.10. Post quake clean up of Chinese supermarket shelves, Cashmere Rd

04.09.10. Plastic tarp placed on quake damaged roof, Centaurus Rd. Soon 1000s of colourful tarps would cover Christchurch quake damaged roofs & chimneys

That afternoon we drove to Sumner, New Brighton & Dallington to see quake damage, while avoiding Christchurch CBD, a NO GO area with cordons taped red, white, yellow POLICE EMERGENCY & DANGER. Red tape took on new meaning.

We saw patchy quake damage where seismic waves had caused chaos. We drove along roads seeing a pattern where there were long sections with no damage at all, then a pocket of devastation, then another long section, no damage, then another pocket of pavement / road / bldg damage, then no damage...

04.09.10. Quake damage to chimneys & roof, cnr Aynsley Tce / Centaurus Rd. House was damaged in later quakes too

14.11.10. Repairs to cnr Centaurus Rd / Aynsley Tce house, 2 months post quake. House was damaged in later quakes too

Quake damage was bad: chimneys toppled, windows smashed, brick walls peeled off, completely or partially, stonework snapped off gables & parapets, rubble & awnings on pavements & roads. Seismic waves amplified up a bldg, causing a whip effect, toppling chimneys, tiles & flinging bricks & stonework off tops of old bldgs. Seismologists dubbed it "ground accelerations."

Brick & stone bldgs fared worst of all, especially corner bldgs, as traffic rumbling had weakened corner bldgs over the years. Quake proofed bldgs fared well. Our wooden, weatherboard house, on piles, jolted, shook & creaked, but survived without any cracks, nor loose tiles. Quaking had a deep, rumbling sound, with lots of shaking & jolts.

9 images, Ferry Rd:

04.09.10. Quake damaged bldg, Ferry Rd, Woolston. 5 months post quake, still just so. Bldg was later demolished

04.09.10. Quake cracked bldg, Ferry Rd, Woolston

04.09.10. Quake damaged Big Ed's Fish & Chips, Ferry Rd

04.09.10. Quake damaged bldg, Ferry Rd, Woolston. Six weeks later the bldg was still just so. Bldg was later demolished

04.09.10. Quake damaged chimney, Ferry Rd

04.09.10. Quake damaged chimney, Ferry Rd

04.09.10. Quake damaged chimney, Ferry Rd

04.09.10. Quake damaged chimney, Ferry Rd

04.09.10. Newspapers soaking up supermarket liquid after the quake, Countdown, Ferry Rd. Countdown was more damaged by later quakes & was demolished post 13.06.11 quake

6 images, Nayland St, Wakefield Ave, Esplanade, Main Rd:

04.09.10. Quake damaged chimneys, Nayland St, Sumner

04.09.10. Quake damaged shop roof, Wakefield Ave, Sumner

04.09.10. Quake damaged side of The Ruptured Duck, Wakefield Ave, Sumner. Bldg was demolished after later quakes

04.09.10. Quake damaged front of The Ruptured Duck, Wakefield Ave, Sumner. Two months post quake, The Ruptured Duck was scaffolded & being repaired. Bldg was later demolished

04.09.10. Quake damaged, brick gate post, Esplanade, Sumner

04.09.10. Quake rock fall below Clifton sea cliff, Main Rd, Sumner Beach

Several old brick bldgs along Ferry Road, Woolston, by Heathcote River, were quake damaged.

We saw damage to older buildings, gate posts & chimneys at Sumner & a small rock fall on the pavement below Clifton sea cliff by Sumner Beach.

7 images, Pages Rd, Waitaki Rd, Bexley:

04.09.10. Quake collapsed garden wall, Bexley

Driving to New Brighton, we were detoured by City Care trucks road blocking Bexley roads & Bromley sewage ponds, so we drove along roads covered with liquefaction silt towards Pages Rd.

Along silt & water flooded Bexley / Aranui roads, we saw more toppled chimneys & roof damage, toppled garden walls & someone's garage a rubble heap, with the garage roof on the front lawn.

04.09.10. Quake collapsed garage, a rubble heap, Bexley

04.09.10. Liquefaction tilting of concrete slab, Bexley Garage, Pages Rd

04.09.10. Liquefaction tilting of concrete slab, Bexley Garage, Pages Rd

There was lots of liquefaction damage at Bexley Garage, Pages Rd, wet silt everywhere & a huge concrete forecourt slab tilted into mud by the garage bldg, with some of the slab tilted skywards. (The slab was soon demolished & hauled away). Near Avon River, Waitaki Rd & housing were flooded.

04.09.10. Quake flooded Waitaki Rd near Avon River

04.09.10. Quake flooded Waitaki Rd near Avon River

04.09.10. Quake flooded Waitaki Rd near Avon River

17 images, Owles Tce, New Brighton Rd:

04.09.10. Quake cracked Owles Tce near Avon River

04.09.10. Quake cracked Owles Tce near Avon River

04.09.10. Quake damaged curb pulled away from tar seal, seen all over Christchurch. Owles Tce near Avon River

04.09.10. Quake cracks, Owles Tce near Avon River

04.09.10. Quake damaged roadside, Owles Tce near Avon River

04.09.10. Quake Crack across Owles Tce near Avon River boat ramp. Liquefaction silt on road corner & pavement

04.09.10. Quake crack, Owles Tce near Avon River

04.09.10. Quake flood water, New Brighton Rd near Avon River

04.09.10. Quake flood water draining away more than 12 hours post quake, New Brighton Rd near Avon River

04.09.10. Detour due to quake flooding on New Brighton Rd. Liquefaction silt in middle of road

There were large quake cracks on pavements & roads by Owles Tce near Avon River / Estuary. New Brighton Rd in New Brighton was flooded in places with detours by Avon River & masses of flood water sucking into road drains more than 12 hours post quake. Some gardens were flooded.

In Dallington, liquefaction caused large cracks & buckling in New Brighton Rd & surrounding roads, with wet silt everywhere & gutters & pavements blocked with silt & water. Leah was afraid to be left alone in our Toyota Corolla, while I wandered around, coolpixing liquefaction damage. We argued lots that quake day.

04.09.10. Quake cracks, New Brighton Rd pavement, Dallington

04.09.10. Quake cracks, liquefaction silt & flood water draining away more than 12 hours post quake, New Brighton Rd, Dallington. Throughout Christchurch, grey liquefaction silt had a gritty texture, like grey beach sand

04.09.10. Liquefaction damaged pavement & quake flooding, New Brighton Rd, Dallington

04.09.10. Quake damaged pavement, New Brighton Rd, Dallington

04.09.10. Liquefaction silt, road buckling, cracking & flooding, New Brighton Rd, Dallington

04.09.10. Red car, liquefaction silt, road buckling, cracking & flooding, New Brighton Rd, Dallington

04.09.10. Quake damaged New Brighton Rd & pavement, Dallington

Sumner, New Brighton & Dallington were again badly damaged by the 22.02.11, magnitude 6.3 quake.


Including Sept 4 quake day, during Christchurch State of Emergency (Sat Sept 4 - Wed Sept 15) I went out every day during aftershocks to coolpix quake damage in Christchurch, before it all disappeared in demolitions & repairs, which happened fast in Christchurch CBD & some suburbs during the state of emergency.

Devastated areas in Bexley by Bexley Wetland & in Avonside by Avon River & lower socio-economic areas like Sydenham took longer to repair, with water, sewage & electricity re-connections taking longer.

Portaloos & HireQuip loos became features of those suburbs, on roadsides & in parks. Liquefaction damage was huge in riverside & swamp suburbs like Avonside, Bexley & Burwood. I saw lots of liquefaction damage in Halswell (old swampland) where we'd lived for 8 years.

Liquefaction: Underground water after heavy rains & a high water table by Avon River & Heathcote River & a thick silt layer covering most of Christchurch from ancient alluvial flooding of Canterbury Plains by Waimakariri River & smaller rivers, was a bad combination for potential liquefaction.

Quake shakes caused silt to compress & water to liquefy silt, which oozed up to ground surface in silt boils / volcanoes, big silt mounds, & if a house, pavement, road or school was on top of liquefaction boils, damage resulted in large cracks & slimy silt everywhere.

Terrifying for those woken up by the quake in the dark, their house cracking & silt flooding in. Some people couldn't leave their houses during the quake, as liquefaction silt stopped doors opening.

For 13 days post quake, during Christchurch state of emergency, I randomly drove around Christchurch, coolpixing quake damage in places I knew & had frequented over the last 15 years since leaving East London, SA, for Christchurch, NZ in 1995. Several suburbs I didn't visit.

I walked the state of emergency cordon in Christchurch CBD 4 times on 4 separate days, & each time the cordon had shrunk inwards towards Ground Zero, Manchester Street, where TVNZ broadcast quake news for several days.

6 images, Worcester Blvd, Montreal St:

06.09.10. Fire HQ by Civil Defence HQ / Christchurch Art Gallery, Worcester Blvd, during the quake state of emergency

At times CBD military cordons were confusing with bldgs & roads fenced off & taped off in odd spots. Cops wearing yellow, Hi Vis vests were confrontational. Young Burnham soldiers wearing camo browns at cordons were less confrontational. There were also Civil Defence volunteers with little authority & big egos, wearing orange, Hi Vis vests, standing in the reflected glory of cops & soldiers.

Besides the military, over the next few quake years, any tin pot dictator could don a Hi Vis vest & demand attention, like councillors, mayors, politicians, Civil Defence, firemen, bldg inspectors, insurance assessors, EQC inspectors, demolishers, salvagers, construction workers, road workers. Other quake icons were orange, plastic, road cones & plastic portaloos, various colours, polluting Christchurch roads.

06.09.10. Montreal St view of Christchurch Art Gallery / Civil Defence HQ, quake state of emergency

As the new Christchurch City Council offices on Worcester Blvd were quake damaged & useless as a quake state of emergency Civil Defence HQ, Christchurch Art Gallery, Worcester Blvd, became the state of emergency Civil Defence HQ.

06.09.10. Yellow, Hi Vis vested, bldg inspector & orange, Hi Vis vested, Civil Defence volunteers crossing Cambridge Tce to Worcester Blvd

06.09.10. Civil Defence HQ / Art Gallery was filled with CD bosses & their teams who emerged from the bldg on various errands - cops, firemen, Urban Search & Rescue / Task Force, USAR / TF teams, NZRT volunteer response teams & other volunteers. They wore glittering hard hats - orange, yellow, white, green, blue & orange, or yellow, Hi Vis vests. NZRT teams wore red or other coloured overalls.

As the plastic taped cordon on Worcester Blvd by Christchurch Art Gallery / Civil Defence HQ was vague, I walked round Central Police into Cashel St, coolpixed quake shattered windows & wandered along Cambridge Tce amongst people & 3 cops snapping quake damage, & cops & soldiers guarding Worcester St Bridge cordon by Cathedral Sq.

06.09.10. Three yellow, Hi Vis vested cops taking quake pics, Worcester Blvd

06.09.10. Lone NZDF soldier from Burnham camp guarding Worcester St Bridge, quake state of emergency cordon

In the first week after the quake, I had what I called "quake fever:" shock, anxiety, mood swings from elation & joking to grief & tearfulness, (impossible to quell due to quake shakes & aftershock shakes & seeing so much quake damage) & flashes of anger. People were mostly friendly & helpful, much easy chatting to strangers, some showed signs of stress with fixed faces & 1 000 yard stares.

5 images, Gloucester St, Manchester St, High St, Mollett St:

06.09.10. NZDF soldiers from Burnham camp direct people past a state of emergency cordon, cnr Gloucester St / Oxford Tce. Cafe Roma behind

In cops' eyes, Christchurch state of emergency degraded citizens to the level of "looters," thieves, burglars & drunks, who cops & soldiers guarded against at CBD cordons. There were CBD night curfews after the quake & anyone found in the CBD cordon & other cordons, like Colombo St, Sydenham, day & night, could be arrested.

Six weeks post quake, when drunks were found at night in CBD quake cordons, cops said drunks were "wasting our time." (The Press). Drunks took short cuts across the CBD by climbing over cordon fences.

06.09.10. Cop watching a businessman save business records from a Manchester St, quake damaged bldg, state of emergency cordon

06.09.10. Quake damaged Theme Basics bldg, cnr Manchester St / St Asaph St, quake state of emergency cordon. Post 22.02.11 quake, the bldg was part demolished, then demolished

06.09.10. Deserted High St, quake state of emergency cordon, usually busy with traffic

My Christchurch quake pics: Dates show days I coolpixed. A surreal time of quake chaos; then organized chaos during many aftershocks; state of emergency cordons; deserted CBD streets; destroyed buildings, roads, pavements, drains; crushed cars; flooding; liquefaction silt; demolitions; repairs; schools, tech, varsity, business closures...

Although there were pockets of quake damage throughout Christchurch, especially old brick & stone bldgs in the CBD, there were vast areas of the city, with newer quake proof buildings, & no quake damage at all. Little did we know that serial quakes would progressively damage bldgs till they were ready to collapse.

After the quake state of emergency, some cordons around quake damaged / demolished bldgs stayed in place for weeks, which caused obstructions to traffic flows.

Quake damages: "Damage totalling $4 billion including $2 billion to residential property, $1 billion for commercial and industrial property and another $1 billion for council and government infrastructure... over 2 600 homes have been reported as uninhabitable and a further 2 900 as not weatherproof." (The Star).

06.09.10. NZDF soldiers from Burnham camp guarding Mollett St, quake state of emergency cordon, Durham St Sth side. A bldg was quake damaged at the end of Mollett St - Colombo St side

Christchurch CBD was again badly damaged by the 22.02.11, magnitude 6.3 quake.

* Wandered Grahams Rd, Greers Rd, Wairakei Rd, Cashmere Rd, Centaurus Rd, Ferry Rd, Nayland St, Wakefield Ave, Esplanade, Main Rd, Pages Rd, Waitaki Rd, Owles Tce, New Brighton Rd, Worcester Blvd, Montreal St, Gloucester St, Manchester St, High St, Mollett St.


Tracey (RSA): Read in the news that you had a quake there earlier today, hope all is okay. September 4 at 10.05 am.

Mark: Fine thanks Tracey, family OK, beautiful, sunny frosty morning. Civil Defence scrambling belatedly to look important. Dunno where the military is, as a state of emergency has been declared. Seaside suburbs, houses, reticulation, more damaged due to boggy ground. I expect values of properties in "soft suburbs" will decline. Our old state rental house, all wood, all good stood up OK.

People standing in streets looking bewildered, cars driving around aimlessly. Just had another aftershock while typing this, like my seat's on jelly with the pc monitor jiggling before my eyes, breaking news alright... September 4 at 10.21 am.

Mark: EARTHQUAKE: 7.1 Richter Scale, epicentre 30 kms west of Christchurch. Esslemonts are OK, shaken awake in our beds, 4.35 this morning, scary aftershocks, cupboard doors flung open, books, food, etc on floor. Jellification of swampland: many Kaiapoi houses destroyed. No traffic lights, water & electricity for hours. OK now. Garden walls fallen; people buying water madly at shops. Chch CBD is cordoned off. September 4 at 10.05 am.

Jenny (NZ): Glad to hear that you are OK. The picture looks bad [NZTV]. Obviously you have power! September 4 at 10.16 am.

Alan (USA): Glad u guys r OK. Remember when we lived in California it was like that. September 4 at 10.19 am.

Mark: Hi Jenny, Leah here. Pretty frightening here but we are fine. Lots of stories of people who had lots more damage than our house. A neighbour had lots of smashed stuff in her house and another is walking indoors with gumboots on to avoid broken glass, china. Shops and businesses still mostly closed. CBD cordoned off. Thank goodness it happened at night. Mark says I should avoid taking a sick day off in future, as yesterday I was home sick for first time in ages. Ha Ha. September 4 at 10.35 am.

Jenny: Have now got a water supply in our camping container and survival kit. Takes something like this so close to home [NZ] to jolt me into action. September 4 at 10.54 am.

Jenny: Hi Leah, have never experienced an earthquake and I hope I never do. Is your house damaged at all? As long as everyone is safe that is the main thing... September 4 at 11.54 am.

Mark: @ Jenny. I've just topped up our emergency water supply, compliments of Christchurch City Council, 3 free rubbish bins supplied to every house, one of which we use to store emergency water, the bin holds gallons. September 4 at 12.07 am.

Luke (UK): Sounds like Jo'burg on most Fridays. On a serious note though I'm glad you are all OK and to date there have been no serious casualties. September 4 at 12.17 pm.

Mark: Hi Jenny from Leah. Yes, all are safe. Our house OK, but lots of people not so lucky. Ours is an old wooden house. Lots of things chucked around and the continuing aftershocks are scary. I am thankful that we were in bed horizontal because everything was moving with a loud rumbling noise. Some of the earlier aftershocks were also full on. Our cat was totally spooked.

Initial worry about no water got us motivated to prepare and fill containers. Many don't have power and / or electricity yet. [Some wouldn't have for days]. Will try to see if any shops open later. This morning we drove around and all closed. No traffic lights working.

Luckily Jake got on his cell before it crashed and he is safe. His girlfriend's family collected them from their flat. Scary stuff. Luke on the other hand is finding it quite exciting. September 4 at 12.30pm.

Alan: Glad to hear you are all fine. In a few hours when Africa wakes up, I will call them and let them know that you are all OK. September 4 at 1.07 pm.

Alan: It's 3 am there now, so I will let them sleep for another 3 hours before calling. September 4 at 1.18 pm.

Sean (NZ): Hi Mark, it sounds like absolute chaos, but good to know you are all OK. September 4 at 1:27 pm.

Mark: Thanks Alan. Very much appreciated. We sent FB messages to Rod & Debbie to spread the OK Esselmonts good news. Every bit counts thanks.

Thanks Luke, just done a neighbourhood walk to check out fallen branches, fallen garden walls, holey roof, power lines down, snapped power poles. Going for a drive now to gawk. September 4 at 1.29 pm.

Cassidy (Aus): Very glad you're OK. When was last earthquake in Christchurch? Are they frequent? Very scary. But glad the Esslemonts OK. September 4 at 2.05 pm.

Alan: Mark, please let Leah know I have spoken to mom to let her know that you are OK. Please let us know if there is anything we can do. I still cannot get through on the phone. September 4 at 3.56 pm.

Alan: Will try and call again in the morning. September 4 at 4.37 pm.

Louise (RSA): Wow scary stuff glad everyone OK though. September 4 at 4.43 pm.

David (UK): Some reported damage looks severe, glad you're OK. Sept 4 at 5.06 pm.

Sheila (RSA): Thanks for keeping us up to speed on things. We are so relieved you are all safe. What a fantastic medium Facebook is. Sending warm hugs and big loves. September 4 at 5.15 pm.

David (RSA): Wow this is serious stuff, Glad you're OK. Sept 4 at 6.27 pm.

Mark: @ Cassidy. Thanks. Earthquakes often in NZ, but not as severe as today's which will be talked about for decades. Many little shakes. Last big one in Chch was in 1995 shortly after we arrived, beelzebub warning committee. We're on the Pacific / Australasian tectonic plates which don't seem to like each other much. September 4 at 6.32 pm.

Mark: @ Alan. Nix to do Alan. Thanks for phoning your mom, much appreciated. Leah still spooked, but coping. September 4 at 6.35 pm.

Mark: @ Sheila. Agree about Facebook. When I started I said to Leah I dunno where Facebook will take me, now I know. September 4 at 6.37 pm.

Mark: @ Louise & David. Thanks, goodwill much appreciated. September 4 at 6.38 pm.

Mark: @ Luke. Bet you wish you were here. Many happy snappers about today, me too, with my digital pics to follow on Facebook when organized. Sept 4 at 6.41 pm.

Linda (UK): Glad you are OK! September 4 at 7.04 pm.

Mark: Still breathing thanks Linda. Lovely sunny day, but 100 km winds expected tomorrow. September 4 at 7.36 pm.

Warren (RSA): Glad u r gd that side. September 4 at 7.45 pm.

Diane (RSA): Glad you are all OK Mark. God bless and love to family. Please take care. September 4 at 8.04 pm.

Rod (USA): Thinking of you all. September 4 at 8.10 pm.

Mark: David, Warren, Diane. Serious. OK for us, not OK for others with damages. We're all unscathed, even Flair our cat is back to normal, yowled so loud in the dark this morning even I heard her. Life goes on. September 4 at 8.16 pm.

Mark: Official NZTV Earthquake news: Curfew 7 pm to 7 am, can be arrested if broken. Aftershocks up to 4 Richter Scale expected in the next week. Burnside High School (near us) Linwood HS & Addington Raceway night refuges for people feeling unsafe / needing company (Slow start by Civil Defence but impressive when going). Mayor Parker praising "resilience" of Cantabrians. Military on standby to help. September 4 at 7.45 pm.

Mark: Jake heard his old flat Poplar Mews in Christchurch CBD was destroyed in the earthquake. He recently flatted there about a year, very old brick, 3 storey bldg. I'm angry so many old, dangerous dilapidated bldgs are flat rentals. Wake up NZ Tenancy Services! September 4 at 7.51 pm.

[This rumour proved false. The next day a cop allowed me past his cordon on Madras St / Lichfield St corner to zoom pic down Ash St to see if Poplar Mews was OK. Poplar Mews flats in Poplar St were all OK as Poplar St brick bldgs had all been reinforced against quakes, so Poplar St brick flats, brick bars & brick boutique shops withstood Chch quake well.

A Chch tram track was being installed in Poplar St to allow tourists to go through. A tall, brick bldg on Poplar St / Lichfield St cnr was quake damaged with top storey wall bricks falling into Lichfield St & crushing a car.

After serial quake damages by the 22.02.11, 13.06.11 & 23.12.11 quakes, early in 2012 Poplar St was demolished by CERA, incl shops, bars & Poplar Mews flats.

Another rumour: One day post quake Leah texted me to fill my car with petrol as Lyttelton Harbour petrol tanks were aftershock cracked & leaking fuel. That rumour proved false too.]

David: Thinking positive thoughts for everyone affected in NZ. September 4 at 9.39 pm.

Richard (UK): Thoughts are with you all in NZ Mark. Hope the world's non racial principles extend to showing NZ equitable support and assistance in their time of crisis! September 4 at 10.05 pm.

Mark: Thanks David & Richard. Funny I haven't noticed racism in this crisis, biggest Chch earthquake in many years: everyone being careful about treading on others' toes (except me & a couple of my unmentionable neighbours) with lots of "Phew" looks on faces.

This afternoon Leah had a friendly chat with a Cashmere Rd, Chinese supermarket lady while Chinese family were mopping up & restoring order to shelves & glancing warily at their caved in roof. Ferry Rd, Countdown supermarket also muddy & messy with newspapers on aisle floors, shopping normal, but water bottles & water sales up.

PM John Key announced Canterbury earthquake damage estimated at NZ$ 2 billion. [Later revised to NZ$ 4 billion]. Bet he's rueing taxpayers bailing out failed Canterbury Finance Services to the tune of NZ$ 1.6 billion last week. Not a good year for insurance companies. September 5 at 5.57 pm.

Mark: Drove through Christchurch suburbs to coolpix earthquake damage. (CBD no go zone). Many newer bldgs OK. Older brick bldgs damaged on Ferry Rd near Heathcote River. Pockets of bldgs with cracked walls & chimneys, roofs, windows & garden walls damaged. Roads & pavements cracked, concrete curbs & gutters shifted, heavy concrete slabs moved. Roads & gardens flood damaged near Avon River, especially New Brighton. September 4 at 8.04 pm.

Paul (NZ): Hi. Great to hear from you... can't believe you have lived here for 15 years... time flies. We are based in Auckland. We are keeping track on Sky. Small world. Keep safe. September 4 at 9.05 pm.

Mark: Thanks Paul. Time's flying & a very small world at the moment, checking family OK in the earthquake, checking for damage to our rental house, no washing up done today. I have a good excuse.

Another early morning rumble & shake while I'm typing. Couldn't sleep at 4.35 this morning, 24 hours after the first quake strike: earthquake hangover? Lost aftershock count long ago. September 5 at 5.30 am.

Keith (RSA): Hi Mark. I see u had some earthquake damage, any chance of aftershocks? September 4 at 9.17 pm.

Mark: Hi Keith. Leah & I lay on our bed for two hours after the first earthquake strike, from about 4.30am - 6.30am. Power & water cuts. Many aftershocks thereafter, loud rumbling noises & bed shaking wildly, safest place for us near a middle wall & strong oak head & foot boards. Secured Taiwanese "good luck" plum painting above our heads stayed on the wall.

Leah cell phoned Jake to check he was OK in his flat. Girlfriend's family picked them up & they went to their safer home with aftershocks continuing... Their Waltham Rd flat was unsafe due to a nearby water tower, old business bldgs & old Honda chop shop bldg looming over their wooden flat.

More aftershocks forecast at max 6 Richter Scale next week. Fears that aftershocks & traffic will shake more old bldgs to bits. September 5 at 5.04 am.

Kelvin (USA): Hi Mark. Are you OK? Just read about the earthquake, not a mention on TV here. September 5 at 5.08 am.

Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

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