Saturday, October 8, 2011

God Laughed, RC Cathedral & Latimer Hotel Demolitions, Christchurch Quakes

God laughed at man's puny efforts to save God houses & man houses. Acts of God during 2010-2011 quakes destroyed lots of Christchurch, but acts of man, especially mean insurers, delayed Christchurch rebuild.

In a few shaky, terrifying seconds, during 2010-2011 quakes, God laid waste to Christchurch & surrounding towns. Man continued to lay waste with demolitions & deconstructions, in the form of Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, CERA, which continued to occupy the citizen-banned, red zone CBD, guarded by NZDF checkpoints & fence cordons.

More than a year post 04.09.10, mag 7.1 quake, 3 more major acts of God & 1 000s of aftershocks, The Weekend Press, 08.10.11 reported:

"Since February 22, 1 227 buildings have been approved for demolitions to date, including 933 under Cera." [More demolitions happened between Sept - Feb quakes & other demolitions were done by Civil Defence during the Feb 22 quake, national state of emergency. Funny figures obfuscated reality.]

"A Cera spokesman said 663 demolitions had been completed including 513 full demolitions, and 150 partial demolitions and another 112 demolitions jobs were under way."

That's not counting the ever expanding CERA demolition list & 1 000s of condemned houses still to be demolished in & around town. There were reports of abandoned Locksley Ave houses, targeted by vandals & looters & cops patrolling empty houses. Slow CERA would have its time & energy cut out to stop wasting cops' time.

Heritage lady Crighton pleaded for heritage bldgs, demanding $5 million from Council, to encourage heritage bldg owners to save their rotten, old properties. That Council $5 million could be matched by NZ govt dollar for dollar. Wishful thinking. Funny how heritage fanatics expected ratepayers, taxpayers & charities to pay for their follies.

There wasn't much rebuild happening in Christchurch, but whenever I drove around town, I saw new demolition sites, some in demolition progress, most empty lots.

Despite ongoing aftershocks & demolitions, Port Hills were greening in spring sunshine. After a year of Christchurch quakes, Castle Rock & Heathcote Valley had several scars from quake rock falls - new beige rocks exposed, against old, grey rocks, weathered over millions of years.

Many old churches were trashed by quakes & hospitality bldgs too - pubs, hotels, motels. Congregations of trashed churches shared venues with intact churches. Hospitality workers left town, or struggled to find work in Christchurch. Many hospitality establishments were demolished, or awaited demolition.

After an apocalyptic winter, Jake found work at the Brewers Arms, Merivale, next to the Chinese Methodist Church ruin, Papanui Rd. 

Images, quake damaged Barbadoes St:


08.10.11. Serial quake trashed, cordoned, Music Centre of Christchurch, Barbadoes St. Music Centre of Christchurch was demolished


Sat. 08.10.11. As I'd already snapped serial quake trashed Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament (RC Cathedral) Barbadoes St, I wanted a closer look at its deconstruction. Next to the RC Cathedral the old, brick Music Centre of Christchurch was serial quake trashed & fence cordoned post Feb 22 quake. Music Centre of Christchurch was demolished.


08.10.11. Shipping containers supporting Feb 22 quake collapsed north tower, Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Barbadoes St


08.10.11. Shipping containers supporting north transept & Feb 22 quake collapsed north tower, Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Barbadoes St

Leah & I looked at weathered rocks on RC Cathedral land. The church rocks lay there since the twin towers collapsed in the Feb 22 quake. The RC Cathedral was concrete brick construction, clad in creamy Oamaru limestone. Soft Oamaru limestone had cracked & sheared off many old Christchurch bldgs during the quakes.


08.10.11. Facade of serial quake trashed Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Barbadoes St, with shipping containers supporting Feb 22 quake collapsed north tower & collapsed, unsupported south tower


The RC Cathedral dome was removed by crane, north tower ruin was supported by shipping containers. North & south transept walls were also supported by shipping containers, while deconstruction happened. Deconstruction took longer than demolition, making mega money for deconstruction firms.


08.10.11. Serial quake trashed Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Barbadoes St, with shipping containers supporting Feb 22 quake collapsed north tower, collapsed, unsupported south tower & shipping containers supporting south transept

Why congregations wanted to save seedy, old church stones, God only knew? They were eyesores, weathered rocks lying around for years. I drove past serial quake ravaged Knox Church daily, Bealey Ave. Over the last quake months, Knox Church ruin, with gaping quake holes in nave brick walls, was visibly deteriorating while weathering. (Only in mid 2013 did restoration begin on Knox Church. Rebuild was completed in 2014 with copper clad walls).


08.10.11. Serial quake trashed Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Barbadoes St, with Feb 22 quake, south tower collapse & shipping containers supporting south transept


That was just Knox Church. Other quake ruined churches mouldered around Christchurch CBD too: Anglican Christchurch Cathedral & St Johns sprung to mind. (St Johns was demolished to make way for the Anglican Cardboard Cathedral). Other death traps were demolished too. Like St Pauls, Cashel St & Methodist Church, Durham St Nth.

Images, quake damaged Worcester St:


08.10.11. Demolition of quake trashed Latimer Hotel, cnr Latimer Sq / Worcester St



Corner Latimer Sq / Worcester St, I snapped a digger demolishing Latimer Hotel. Demolitions went quicker than deconstructions. Latimer Hotel site would soon be empty, ready for rebuild.


08.10.11. Demolition of quake trashed Latimer Hotel, cnr Latimer Sq / Worcester St



Many business bldgs around Latimer Sq were demolished, empty lots visible behind red zone, cordon fences. Business bldgs along Madras St north & south were demolished too, including notorious CTV bldg, corner Madras St / Cashel St, where 115 people died, when CTV bldg collapsed & burned in the Feb 22 quake.

Later while Leah & I ate pies in our parked car by French Bakery, Chapmans Rd, below Port Hills & Avoca Valley: 4:17 pm, mag 4.8 quake, depth 8 km, 10 km SE of Diamond Harbour (Geonet). God laughed. Bounced our car.

Leah opened the car door, ready to jump & run. I reversed our car from the bakery, concrete, tilt slab walls, while customers & bakery staff ran out the front door.

Across the road another tilt slab wall had vast quake cracks across it, fixed by epoxy glue. I drove back to Burnside before God laughed again.

Images, quake damaged Chapmans Rd:


14.10.11. Post quake, concrete, tilt slab wall cracks fixed by epoxy glue, Chapmans Rd


That afternoon & evening, there were several aftershocks around Diamond Harbour, Lyttelton & Little River...

Sun. 09.10.11. Mag 5.5 quake, 8:34 pm, depth 12 km, 10 km NE of Diamond Harbour (Geonet). It caused fear in Hagley Park, RWC Fan Zone, when PM Key & 1 000s of others enjoyed TV viewing ABs quarter final trouncing of Argentine Pumas, 33-10.

The game had just started when the quake rumbled, shaking & creaking our house, without a flicker on our TV, as had so often happened over the last year.

Hope God enjoyed ABs winning. Next weekend, ABs beat Wallabies in the RWC semi final, 20-6. Following Saturday, ABs just beat France 8-7. Monday, ABs victory parade, Queens St, Auckland. Tuesday, ABs victory parade along former red zoned Rolleston Ave, Park Tce to Bealey Ave then Hagley Park fan zone.

Tues, after work, Leah got caught in Bealey Ave, late afternoon gridlock, while ABs fans rejoiced.

Next stop, Wednesday, Wellington, for the third & last ABs victory parade.

As I observed to a mate post Sept 4 quake, there were few atheists in war zones or quake zones. Christchurch ungodly authorities could consider returning quake trashed, Christchurch CBD red zone into God Zone again, instead of Sodom & Gomorrah preceding quakes, especially Manchester St seedy, red light rubbish.

God laughed at the arrogance of so-called Canterbury business leaders, self appointed & unelected of course, who whined about Council's draft rebuild plan. Those so-called business leaders had much to answer for - deaths caused by death trap, business bldgs & business failures to quake reinforce those bldgs pre quakes.

So-called business leaders had great expectations of investing (or threatening not to invest) quake trashed bldg, insurance monies in rebuilding the new Christchurch CBD, yet whined how hard it was to get insurance pay outs for quake trashed bldgs. Or whined how expensive post quake premiums became.

As Christchurch CBD was red zone cordoned & so far closed for 8 months since the Feb 22 quake & would stay closed till April 2012, according to CERA, & as most of the 182 deaths [revised toll 185] in the Feb 22 quake were caused by quake trashed business bldgs in Christchurch CBD, gotta ask:

Why were there so many quake-unsafe, business bldgs in Christchurch CBD before the 2010-2011 quakes?

Regarding Christchurch CBD, red zone cordon looting, God laughed at University of Canterbury, criminologist Newbold's mind set:

"These things are inevitable, they happen in war... [War? Earthquake, Newbold!] soldiers do heaps of looting in war time [generalized BS Newbold!] it happens all the time when you get urban breakdown you get a lot of looting. [Huh?] People weren't patrolling inside making sure the people who had authority to be inside weren't thieving. They were mainly patrolling on the outside making sure people who didn't have authority weren't getting inside." (Red zone workers angry at looting claim. The United).

Newbold risibly implied citizens outside Christchurch CBD red zone cordon were suspect thieves & everyone working inside were suspect thieves too. His words implied that everyone with CERA passes inside Christchurch CBD cordon could loot to their hearts' content.

I never saw anyone being searched by NZDF soldiers or cops at red zone checkpoints. Paper pass, no searching. So what was the point of red zone, CBD access control? Certainly not people protection, as cops, soldiers, Civil Defence, CERA, clerics, celebrities, choir boys, insurance men, MPs, councillors, some photographers, contractors... were allowed into the quake trashed CBD. But most ratepayers, NO!

The point was that post Feb 22 quake, national state of emergency, CERA legislation enabled NZ govt & CERA to continue state of emergency actions indefinitely, a police state in & around Christchurch, for another 5 years, then reviewed. NZDF soldiers were still at red zone checkpoints months after the national state of emergency ended. A dictatorship of the South Seas. (See CERA Bill).

Newbold was confused, but supporting his contention, there were several media reports of looting in the CBD.

Of course cops media reported there was little looting in the cordoned CBD: "Police are confident widespread looting has not occurred..." (The Press 26.10.11). Cops were fools, hysterically shrieking "looter," early days of the national state of emergency, post Feb 22 quake.

The Arie Voorkamp "looter" case pertained (conveniently forgotten by bullying cops) where Arie & his mate were detained without trial for weeks, for "looting" 2 light bulbs from a Lincoln Rd bldg.

Deja vu, the slimy slope of a police state, in which I lived in apartheid SA.

Methinks USAR / TF defended its saintliness too much. Gotta ask why Councils, engineers & USAR / TF allowed so many rotten, quake-unsafe bldgs in Christchurch & NZ to exist before the 04.09.10 quake, which remained in use before the lethal 22.02.11 quake?

Post 04.09.10 quake, USAR / TF did much sniffing around rotten, cordoned bldgs, but I never heard of USAR's / TF's disapproval, nor insisting on closure of unsafe bldgs before the 22.02.11 quake. USAR / TF legacy was lots of spray-painted graffiti on 1 000s of Christchurch bldgs, pavements & roads, still seen for years post Feb 22 quake. God laughed at puny efforts of men playing gods.

Quakes were underground wave accelerations, spreading from an epicentre after a fault slip. Quakes were safe, if one wasn't exposed to natural features like cliffs, or tsunamis, or exposed to man made structures like brittle, masonry & concrete bldgs, which caused damage to humans. Wooden bldgs were OK, like our wooden frame, aluminium clad, rental house, as wood flexed in quakes. If one was unlucky to be caught by falling rocks on the Port Hills that was lethal. A few Cantabrians died so. Quake caused tsunamis weren't a Canterbury crustal quake problem.

Tons of liquefaction mud & water caused problems, as did quake sink holes & cracks, if one was foolish enough to drive over such obstacles. Liquefactioned housing & roads caused despair for Cantabrians, as authorities had allowed housing to be built on known liquefaction prone land, like riversides & swamps.

On Canterbury Plains, in the open air, or in safe, wooden housing, quakes just jolted & shook one. Weak, quake prone bldgs made of unreinforced masonry & concrete were dangerous. Concrete crumbled, bricks fell, glass shattered, steel reinforcement bent or snapped, but wood flexed & moved with quakes.

Flowers & trees danced in quakes, they didn't shatter & collapse like man made bldgs. In the 22.02.11 quake, Leah & Jake saw trees dancing outside their CBD workplaces. Luke saw trees dancing in Hagley Park while he bussed past. I saw trees dancing outside our Burnside home. We feared them then. My next big quake, I wont fear dancing trees. God laughed.   

Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Latimer Hotel Rebuild, post Christchurch Quakes
.

See Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Bill (NZ govt).

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