Sunday, November 7, 2010

Facebook: September Quake Days after Christchurch 7.1 Quake

After Christchurch 04.09.10 quake, magnitude 7.1 & state of emergency, ending on September 15, although I stopped coolpixing quake damage, aftershocks continued, so I posted Facebook comments:

Mark: On 04.09.10 shortly after 4.35 am, Christchurch earthquake stopped the clock on the old station clock tower, Moorhouse Ave, & stopped the clock on the Jubilee clock tower, Victoria St. September 19 at 8.31 am.

Mark: A Building Recovery Office has been set up on the Ground Floor of the new Christchurch City Council bldg, 53 Hereford St. The purpose is to provide advice and a streamlined consenting approval process for bldgs damaged in the earthquake. There will be a range of bldg and planning specialists available at the office. (Buck councillor flyer). September 19 at 12.50 pm.

Sheila (RSA): They are so organized. Is this because insurances don't cover? September 19 at 12.55 pm.

Mark: Unsure of the details Sheila, but damages can be claimed from the Earthquake Commission (EQC) a govt body with megabucks invested for such a mishap, & one also claims from one's own insurance company for damages not covered by the EQC. Council consenting approval & bldg plans take months under ordinary bldg circumstances, but the new office will cut through red tape & speed up things, so people can repair / rebuild asap. Govt pushed through new laws post quake to cut through red tape, as thousands of houses / businesses need rebuilding or repairs.

[Wishful thinking, as 2 years post 22.02.11 quake Council was still slow in processing new bldg consents.

This EQC prediction proved false: "The target is to have settled all claims under $10 000 by Christmas and to have inspected all properties with likely claims over $10 000 by March next year. EQC is settling its part of claims over $100 000 as they are identified. The repair work for all claims between $10 000 and $100 000, the ones to be managed by our Project Management Office, may take up to two years. We expect reinstating damaged land to take up to 18 months." EQC advert The Star, 5 November 2010, two months post Sept 4 quake.

Typical govt dept, go slow, sit on taxpayers' money & stuff victims around.

"Reinstating damaged land" consisted of mechanically bashing land to shrink pore space between soil particles, then infilling the hole. There was no guarantee that soil bashing would stop future liquefaction damage, just the fact that before the quake development land had been bashed at Pegasus town development a few kms north of Christchurch, unaffected by liquefaction.]

Besides spring flowers blooming, Chch has become quite colourful since the quake with damaged roofs adorned in green, blue, red, orange, yellow black, grey plastic tarps covering roofs or bandaging chimneys. Also wobbly gables have been wood braced, wobbly walls & pavement awnings are firmed with wood or metal bracing until proper repairs can be done. The priority is safety & the CBD is full of wire fencing & scaffolding around dodgy bldgs while workmen do repairs.

New laws were quickly passed to increase reinforcement of heritage bldgs, as Chch has many Victorian stone bldgs, so some heritage bldg owners / mortgagees are whining that it's cheaper to demolish their heritage bldgs than to pay for extra quake reinforcements. I don't blame them, as so-called heritage bldgs are full of quake cracks & if I owned the bldg I'd want to claim from the EQC to demolish & erect a safer modern bldg. September 19 at 7.42 pm.

Mark: Christchurch quake damaged warehouses & Kaikoura landslide over road & rail links caused unusual brand names & stock shortages on supermarket shelves: bread, rice, flour, toilet paper, paper towells, sultanas, raisins, Coca Cola, green bananas. Some dearest & cheapest stocks only available. Quake damage specials on goods liked tinned Watties baked beans. Bought 10 kg bag of Invercargill Nadine spuds, $3 cheaper. Sept 21 at 9.48am.

Mark: Leah's colleague lost her Burwood home in the Chch 7.1 quake. House doors silted closed by liquefaction stopped her family fleeing in the night. Trapped in the quaking house, the family cowered by a wall in the dark thinking the world was ending; while a bottomless void opened in the middle of their house. Two weeks later in daylight they still can't see the bottom. September 21 at 7.02 pm.

Cherryn Paige (RSA): Breathtakingly shocking. September 21 at 7.05 pm.

Cassidy (Aus): Scary. September 21 at 7.11 pm.

Mark: After most things stopped in the week or so post quake, during the state of emergency, now that people are back at work, their lives are changed forever, the stories... September at 7.15 pm.

Sheila (RSA): Horror of horrors. What devastation. Life cannot ever be the same. Saturday 21 at 11.48 pm.

Mark: Everything has changed, never the same. Structurally Chch is scarred & rebuilding, but people have quake fever. Leah's workmates can't concentrate & are out of sorts. Luke's workmate from Chile was sacked for continually arguing with the builder's apprentice.

Leah is the only stable person part time teaching a girl whose Kaiapoi family lost their home, which sunk over 20 cm into liquefaction mire. The girl's St Paul's School, Dallington, has to be rebuilt due to quake liquefaction damage, so the girl has to move to another temporary school [Cathedral College] & must re-school again next year.

A SA Dallington family we know had no sewage nor water connections for 5 days post quake, due to liquefaction damage. Another Burwood family Leah knows also lost their home due to liquefaction: had to use buckets as toilets for days before Civil Defence provided portaloos [only after that mess was shown on national TV]. September 22 at 8.30 am.

Sheila: It is really difficult for a normal person to process this trauma. I am so thankful for your safety. September 22 at 8.35 am.

Janet (NZ): This is the worst I've heard from Chch. Makes it even more unbelievable that no one was lost in this terrifying destruction. That poor family. September 22 at 3.00 pm.

Mark: I see many "Business Relocated" hand written signs on quake damaged business premises & newspaper notices:

"Due to the earthquake all Mastertrade staff have relocated to Mico Bathrooms in Antigua Street, just round the corner.

Our staff are fully up and running and keen to help out anyone with plumbing or bathroom enquiries." (The Press). September 22 at 8.46 am.

Mark: PM Key busy with cabinet meetings & irate Cantabrians with quake damaged bldgs says: "We are negotiating with insurers, with the EQC to make sure we can put together a package that allows them to have their assets preserved, restored and the least financial impact on those residents." The Press. September 22 at 8.55 am.

[After the quake, Chch housing market slowed down almost to a halt. Our Indian neighbours from Delhi couldn't sell their house, (for sale before the quake) so took it off the market. Who wants to buy a house when weeks of aftershocks still caused damage?]

Mark: Three Boys Brewery, Woolston, named two unique beers, Magnitude 7.1 & Aftershock, after Christchurch 7.1 quake shook a brewing beer & a 5.1 aftershock caused a power cut to another brewing beer. Will be sold at bars like The Twisted Hop, Poplar St (The Press). September 23 at 9.41 am.

Mark: Day 19 after: Leah, Luke & I were shaken awake this morning by a 4.5 aftershock, epicentre 10 kms west of Chch. Spooked cat jumped off our bed. Geonet gives quake info: daily NZ seismic activity including Chch. Many rural quakes on North Island. We live in Chch with lots of visible destruction. Sept 23 at 9.53 am.

Pippa (Ca): Still aftershocks? There is nothing on the news about it here [Canada]. September 23 at 4.09 pm.

Mark: Daily Pippa, hardly notice aftershocks anymore, pause then carry on what we're doing. Big aftershocks are still unnerving, especially the ones that wake us up, like last night's 4.6 at 3.40 am, epicentre 20 kms west of Chch. Geonet gives a good idea of daily quakes around us - Darfield, Springfield, Lyttelton are all towns near Christchurch. Getting close & personal. Know a kid who can't sleep at night, fears she's going to die in a quake, changed forever. September 24 at 10.04 am.

Mark: Maybe quake news is suppressed due to Rugby WC 2011. Mustn't spook tourists & rugger buggers coming to NZ. No deaths, hardly enough crying women & kids & damages not enough to hit world news. Bent bldgs, rickety chimneys, loose tiles, colourful roof tarps not sensational enough. September 24 at 11.16 am.

Pippa: Sorry to hear all this. We thought it was all over. Sept 25 at 1.43 pm.

Mark: Chch City Council & Canterbury Health Board elections are continuing. Some promises by candidates in their pre-quake blurbs are funny: "Safety of Chch streets. We are now officially NZ's safest metropolitan centre." (mayor Parker). "I will work to keep our water fresh, clean & available to all." (Anderton). "Will promote an untouched clean water supply." (Hawarden). September 24 at 10.14 am.

Mark: Quake damages: "Damage totalling $4 billion including $2 billion to residential property, $1 billion for commercial and industrial property, $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). September 25 at 9.36 am.

Sean (NZ): I spoke to a mate in Chch. He has just submitted his claim for damages (fortunately only minor) but he is #69 000 in the queue! September 25 at 10.15 am.

Mark: So many people affected & so much damage in so little time Sean. Three weeks post quake, many clean ups & repairs going on. Chch has empty sites where once old bldgs stood. CBD looks different already. Will be interesting to see what councillors, planners, architects & tradesmen do to improve Chch.

Some repairs briefly look worse than quake damage e.g. scaffolding, cranes, bldg inspectors everywhere. New bare wooden supports below once collapsed pavement awnings, awaiting restoration. Steeple roof taken off damaged Chinese Methodist Church, Papanui Rd. Bright new corrugated iron patches on roofs where chimneys once stood. A Victoria St / Bealey Ave corner restaurant with roof damage had an outer brick wall stripped off during rebuilding [Saggio di vino]. Another bldg, Ferry Rd, with roof damage is slowly being hand demolished. [Demolition speeded up the next week]. Great mounds of fenced off rubble & twisted metal on demolition sites, awaiting haulage.

Daily traffic jams in the CBD, due to fencing & plastic tapes across repair areas, changes daily. September 25 at 11.18 am.

Sean (NZ): With local body elections around the corner there will hopefully be strong visionary leadership at the top. It will make a change from petty politics with some real meaningful issues at stake. September 25 at 4.35 pm.

George (RSA): Looks a dangerous place. Did think about visiting you guys but will stay (safely) home for a while. September 26 at 3.24 am.

Mark: You're welcome George. Complaints from quake damaged areas that bus tours were going past damaged houses. Been several big aftershocks today, Sat / early Sun morn, last one a few minutes ago after 2 am, a big, rumbly, grumbly quake, made my spine judder in my seat. September 26 at 3.24 am.

Mark: Sean. Hopefully local leaders will get it right at last. Victorians sure got it wrong with all their bricks & masonry in a quake zone. Believe it or not, there're nitwits now in Chch calling masonry monstrosities "heritage buildings" worthy of preserving - till someone gets killed. September 26 at 3.33 am.

Mark: Who needs an alarm clock when we've got aftershocks? Just had another, guesstimate 4, while I'm on Facebook, shakes my seat. September 25 at 10.26 am.

Mark: 129 new photos. Christchurch Earthquake, 7.1 Magnitude, 04.09.2010. September 25 at 2.53 pm.

Janet (NZ): Great pics Mark. Sad to see, yet interesting too for those of us who haven't been back to Chch since the quake to see for ourselves. September 26 at 5.46 pm.

Mark: Everything changed fast Janet. My impulse was to go out every day for 13 days & see as much asap & record it before it disappeared. You wont see what's in the pics again in reality, as clean ups & demolitions happened fast. Some pics already show clean ups & some junk was left around to impress insurance evaluators & bldg inspectors I think. September 26 at 5.56 pm.

Anton (RSA): Great shots Mark. Scary! September 26 at 6.34 pm.

David (UK): You should go back in a year or so's time and rephotograph the memorable places - and post a then and now piece. September 27 at 7.53 am.

Mark: Anton & David. Already coolpixed some then & now pics as some demolitions happened fast. As I took many angle shots, I'll put more comprehensive pics on my Woza Wanderer blog, in the fullness of time, as Blogger is as slow as Facebook, max 5 pics a time, tedious, will take some weeks. Felt Facebook was 1st priority tho. Hoping to do another set of Facebook pics, haven't uploaded Colombo St, Sydenham yet, like the Blitz. September 27 at 8.29 am.

Lynelle (RSA): Even though we heard about the quakes, we didn't realize how bad it was and is. Your photos have really captured the moment. November 3 at 7.07 am.

Mark: Been working all day on quake pics, not finished yet, but enough to give you an idea of what's going on in Chch. Aftershocks haven't stopped for 3 weeks now.

Luke broke his collarbone last night, skateboarding over a pavement quake hole in the dark. X rays, couple of docs, hospital, the whole toot. Back home, Jake's enjoying celebrity status with his mates. September 26 at 3.36 am.

Diane (RSA): Ouch he must be in pain. Hope he gets better soon and hope you and Leah are well. September 26 at 9.54 am.

Jenny (NZ): Oh dear - NS broke his collarbone surfing when he was 18 and it was sooooo painful. Hope Luke's OK. September 26 at 10.25 am.

Mark: Diane & Jenny. Leah & Mark well. 

Luke: Lots of pain, on pain killers. Fall happened at night, Luke often skates home at night. "Slept" overnight at home, as we weren't sure it was a break, only took him to a doc next day (Sat). Clean break, no protruding bone. Treatment - just leave it to regrow, as it's too close to veins etc, will see doc again in 2 weeks. Fortunately Luke has finished his 200 hr prac component of his tech builder course, as he's off physical bldg site work for a while. September 26 at 11.17 am.

Mark: Been uploading "More Pics" of Chch Quake & will continue uploading when I arm wrestle our computer from Luke. September 27 at 6.11 pm.

Mark: More Pics: Christchurch Earthquake, 7.1 Magnitude, 04.09.2010. Sept 27 at 5.51 pm.

Sheila (RSA): Looks like pics from a movie. Quite tragic. Love your anchor girl. [Leah]. September 28 at 12.08 am.

Luke (UK): Well done Mark. Once all the repairs have been done and some time has passed your excellent documentation of the quake will be invaluable to scholars & engineers alike. September 28 at 11.33 am.

Mark: Maybe some use thanks Luke, more's the pity over 13 days I only recorded small areas in suburbs & CBD, then stopped, exhausted. Also demolishers, repairmen & some suspicious, unfriendly cops & troops hovered (discouraging rubberneckers, we were all branded potential "looters" during the state of emergency) so I didn't always catch the immediate aftermath of the quake, impossible for me, as professionals like yourself were allowed in state of emergency cordons manned by cops & soldiers for 10 days post quake. The rest of us could've been arrested for curfew breaking, being within cordons illegally. Several court cases are already punishing lowlife looters / burglars / thieves / drunks in "wrong" places.

I tried to record stuff which was meaningful to me, sometimes detailed, in some places I'd frequented the last 15 years. Haven't seen several Christchurch suburbs, but see more quake damage daily (stopped coolpixing now) as well as rapid repairs and demolitions. Nearby towns like Brooklands, Spencerville, Kaiapoi, Lyttelton, Rolleston, Prebbleton, Kirwee, Darfield, Coalgate, Springfield, Rangiora, Oxford all have their quake stories. September 28 at 12.00 pm.

Mark: Spring flowers like the heady scent of ornamental apple blossoms outside our Heath St home will always remind me of quakes. September 28 at 10.42 am.

Mark: Ex councillor: "Now after the quake... the Council has the power to stop demolition & urges the fast tracking of heritage reviews as well as the implementation of other measures." (Nor'west news). Good on the demolishers, as Chch has too many ugly, unsafe, expensive to maintain "heritage" bldgs. The councillor should buy those bldgs & use them personally, not expect ratepayers to buy junk. September 29 at 3.14 pm.

Some Facebook messages:

Val (UK): Just wondering how you are getting on and if the aftershocks have stopped? For some reason we hear nothing about your situation on the news. Tell Mark his Facebook comments are most informative and I follow them with interest. September 12 at 8.29 pm.

Mark: Hi from Leah Val. We are still getting aftershocks, however they are seldom as fierce or as frequent, but continue to do damage. We are now aware of some minor surface cracks in our house that weren't there initially. I'm very glad to be in a wooden house.

Despite all the really serious damage around us, we have been very lucky. There are people who are without homes who have to rebuild their lives. It's amazing seeing piles of rubble where unsafe bldgs have already been demolished.

Have just had an aftershock right now - watching the pen on our desk roll from side to side, my pot plant leaves move as though a wind is in the room & the chair I'm sitting on shuddering beneath me. We get used to them after the initial second or two of adjusting, but they generally don't last long!

In our area we have water which no longer needs boiling, sewage all OK & power back to normal. Some people took far longer to get theirs' back to normal & relied on portaloos & help from others. I have 2 friends who have lost their homes.

There is pressure on roads & more cars have to go on available roads - not all are safe & some are closed or have sections closed, so it took me more than double my usual time to get back from work on the first day that schools reopened. (Schools & many businesses closed for a week, while initial safety checks & damage assessments were done). I've become creative in using side roads & avoiding many roads or problem roads. A lot of repairs are already underway or completed which is great. It was creepy driving over roads cracked over like a torn piece of paper.

A number of bldgs have already been demolished & others have been braced with wood or metal as temporary repairs to keep them safe. Many churches built from stone or brick are badly damaged, which is sad to see. The Chinese Methodist Church is not far from our home, where the damaged & unsafe steeple roof was lifted by crane & set onto the ground beside the church, till the danger is over & it can be safely repaired.

It will take a long time till our limping & scarred city mends, but the fact that all of us are alive is precious to all of us. September 20 at 3.04 am.

Val: Hi Leah. Thanks for the update. Glad to hear you are alright. By now I though aftershocks should have stopped. Is it normal for aftershocks to last this long [Yes]. With them continuing like this people must be reticent to do repairs etc until it settles. Something to tell your grandchildren about. September 21 at 5.18 am.

Mark: Leah here Val. Our shake aftershocks are STILL around. Not happening as frequently, but still giving us some whoppers just to remind us it is still around. Last weekend we had a 4.5 & a 4.9 just to remind us what we are missing! It is weird to watch things like pens roll from side to side or water in a jug do a swaying dance. The whole house rocks, windows rattle, we feel vibrations of shock waves through our bodies. Luckily our house is in an area relatively unaffected so it is not so stressful. For those whose houses are already in a damaged state, each aftershock brings fresh worries & concerns.

Some of the damage Mark & I have looked at is incredible: bldgs have moved or tilted, or structures have either sunk or risen upwards. Really weird.

Driving around the city will continue to give hassles for quite some time to come, with damaged roads & bldgs causing traffic problems. November 20 at 6.11 pm.

Content Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

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