Friday, December 9, 2011

Red Zone Ghosts, Swanns Rd & Avonside Dr

Fri 09.12.11. Eight months ago, 28 April, was the last time I'd wandered Avonside Dr, by Avon River, during the national state of emergency.

As the Feb 22 quake had raised Avon River bed, a stop bank was built along Avonside Dr to stop flooding. I'd walked along the new stop bank & snapped pics of quake damaged houses. Most houses were still lived in then.

Images, quake damaged Swanns Rd:


09.12.11. Quake trashed, fence cordoned, ghost shop, cnr Swanns Rd / Stanmore Rd. The shop was demolished

Eight months later, I wandered along Swanns Rd & Avonside Dr to Bowie Pl, all within 3.5 kms of Leah's London St school, near Stanmore Rd. Swanns Rd, went off Stanmore Rd to Avon River & began about 500 m from Leah's school gate. Stanmore Rd was the eastern border between Christchurch, quake trashed CBD & eastern, quake trashed suburbs.


09.12.11. Quake trashed, fence cordoned, ghost flats, awaiting demolition, cnr Swanns Rd / Stanmore Rd. Mar 2013, the flats still awaited demolition







I parked my car by a quake trashed, fence cordoned shop (later demolished) corner Swanns Rd / Stanmore Rd. On the opposite corner, several quake trashed, double storey, brick flats were fence cordoned. The lane going to the flats still had roadside, liquefaction mud. The ghost flats were empty, tenants long gone. Grass verges were cut, but gardens were overgrown.

Mar 2013, the ghost flats were still fence cordoned awaiting demolition.


09.12.11. Quake trashed, fence cordoned, ghost flats, cnr Swanns Rd / Stanmore Rd. The flats were demolished







Since June, the Avon River horseshoe bend where I walked was designated red zone by CERA. It would be too expensive to reinstate quake trashed land beside Avon River, so all home owners had to leave & do battle with 2 NZ govt buy out offers, or battle EQC & insurers for equitable pay outs, repairs or rebuilds for their quake trashed homes.

I confined my snapping to empty ghost houses, with overgrown gardens, grass, shrubs, flowers & weeds growing wild. Quake displaced people were gone. During my riverside wander, I had that creepy feeling again when walking amongst ghost bldgs. It was a feeling of being watched, yet no one was in sight amongst abandoned housing.

I didn't snap houses where people still resided, cars in driveways, grass cut, curtains twitching. There were many houses along Swanns Rd & Avonside Dr where quake distraught people still lived.

Over the next year or so, when enough people had left red zone housing, after settling with NZ govt red zone offer, CERA planned to demolish houses in batches. What would become of the red zone along Avon River was anyone's guess? CERA minister Brownlee wasn't telling.

Swanns Rd & Avonside Dr I wandered were worse than 8 months ago - dusty roads, empty ghost houses, overgrown gardens, weedy, quake cracked driveways.


09.12.11. Quake trashed, ghost house, Swanns Rd







09.12.11. Quake trashed, ghost house, cnr Swanns Rd / River Rd



Swanns Rd: I snapped several ghost houses. Swanns Rd Bridge was in bad condition, quake cracks on both sides of the bridge along Avon River banks. Bridge joins by spans & abutments were badly quake cracked, yet cars still drove over the bridge. Pumps on Avon River banks pumped sludge though fat, plastic pipes.


09.12.11. Quake trashed roads & ghost house, cnr Swanns Rd / River Rd


09.12.11. Post quake pump & quake trashed roadside by Swanns Rd Bridge, cnr Swanns Rd / River Rd

Corner Swanns Rd / River Rd: A pump I'd seen 8 months ago, in the middle of the cracked, lumpy road, still pumped sludge. On Avon River bank, Avonside Dr side, a group of NIWA, water & atmospheric research workers, in brown waders, took water samples.

Images, quake damaged Avonside Dr:


09.12.11. Quake trashed Avonside Dr by Swanns Rd Bridge


09.12.11. Quake damaged Swanns Rd Bridge, seen from Avonside Dr


09.12.11. Pump on Avon River bank by Swanns Rd Bridge, Avonside Dr

For months post Feb 22 quake, Avon River was an open sewer while Christchurch sewage system was fixed. Only recently had Council declared beaches & rivers safe for water sports again.

Avonside Dr: Quake holes & cracks were filled in, but the road surface was mainly shingled, with some tar seal, allowing remaining residents access to quake trashed homes. Liquefaction mud was still on cracked pavements & driveways.

Avonside Dr, near quake trashed Avonside Girls High School: I snapped several ghost houses, with overgrown gardens. One ghost house was the same as months ago, rubble by the front garden wall, quake stripped house wall, rooms exposed, blue tarp flapping in the wind.


09.12.11. Quake trashed, red zone, ghost house, Avonside Dr, near Swanns Rd Bridge




Opposite Swanns Rd Bridge, Avonside Dr ghost houses had overgrown gardens: long grass, weeds, shrubs & flowers growing wild. As in other quake trashed suburbs, blue, plastic water pipes undulated along pavements, buried in places by liquefaction mud.


09.12.11. Quake trashed, red zone, ghost house, Avonside Dr, near Swanns Rd Bridge




09.12.11. Quake trashed, red zone, ghost house, Avonside Dr




Monckton Pl off Avonside Dr: I snapped ghost houses & liquefaction mud still on pavements.


09.12.11. Liquefaction mud in quake trashed, red zone driveway, Monckton Pl




09.12.11. Quake trashed, red zone, ghost house, Monckton Pl




I wandered along the stop bank between Avon River & Avonside Dr. Since I last passed that way, the stop bank had hardened, with shingle on top & weeds growing on stop bank slopes.


09.12.11. Post Feb 22 quake, red zone stop bank, between Avon River & Avonside Dr


09.12.11. Red zone, Avonside Dr, post Feb 22 quake stop bank view of Canada geese in Avon River. River Rd on opp bank

Riverbanks were overgrown, not that Canada geese, black swans nor other waterfowl minded. Nature reclaimed its own. The riverbank was slumped, due to lateral spreading, with quake cracks hidden by grass. The tar seal footpath was quake cracked, lumpy & pot holed. Mud on the footpath, showed tidal flooding from quake raised Avon River.


09.12.11. Post quake, red zone, ghost houses. Blue water pipe on pavement, Avonside Dr


09.12.11. Post quake, red zone, ghost house, Avonside Dr





I wandered past the Sept 4, quake trashed, Medway St Footbridge over Avon River, joining Avonside Dr & River Rd. Post quakes, every time I passed the footbridge, it had sunk closer to the water. The footbridge was concrete block cordoned on both river banks.

Early 2013, Medway St Footbridge was deconstructed for heritage storage at Ferrymead.


09.12.11. Sept 4, quake trashed, Medway St Footbridge over Avon River, between Avonside Dr & River Rd


09.12.11. Quake trashed, red zone, ghost house, Avonside Dr



09.12.11. Quake trashed, red zone footpath by Avon River, Avonside Dr. River Rd on opp bank



09.12.11. Quake trashed, red zone, ghost house, Avonside Dr




09.12.11. Quake trashed, red zone, ghost house, Avonside Dr. Green, plastic sewage tank on pavement


09.12.11. Quake trashed, red zone, ghost house, Avonside Dr


Along Avon River, I saw several brown puddles riverside & on Avonside Dr, as river water seeped through to housing. A couple of furniture removal trucks were parked roadside, while home owners relocated.


09.12.11. Post quake, Avonside Dr view of Avon River footbridge, River Rd / Dallington Tce cnr


09.12.11. Avon River flooding & quake trashed footpath. Avonside Dr stop bank right. Dallington Tce left



09.12.11. Quake trashed, Avon River bank bench & footpath. Post Feb 22 quake stop bank & removal van behind, Avonside Dr


Portaloos still lined overgrown Avonside Dr pavements, showing residents were still in some houses. When I wandered past, fetid pongs of hand cleaner & crap wafted out. Post Sept 4 quake, imagine using a pavement portaloo for 15 months...


09.12.11. Quake trashed, red zone, ghost house, Avonside Dr


Things would get worse for residents when CERA demolishers moved in: dust; clanking, ripping machinery; trucks rumbling by. Leah's school shuddered whenever a heavy vehicle blundered by.


09.12.11. Quake trashed, red zone, ghost house, Avonside Dr


Pumps I'd seen 8 months ago in the middle of Avonside Dr were still pumping sludge. Diesel fumes & noise polluted the air. Plastic pipes, for pumped sludge, lined weedy roadsides. Blue water pipes lined cracked pavements, some half buried in liquefaction mud.


09.12.11. Quake trashed, red zone, ghost house, Avonside Dr


While wandering Avonside Dr, I kept a wary eye out for quake tilted power poles & low hanging power lines. Several places en route, I could've jumped up & touched hanging power lines. Green stickers on abandoned, red zone housing showed that power was cut.


09.12.11. Overgrown, post quake, red zone, house demolition site, cnr Avonside Dr / Robson Ave. Dallington Tce on opp Avon River bank



09.12.11. Liquefaction mud & quake flooding, cnr Avonside Dr / Robson Ave

Between Robson Ave / Morris St junctions I snapped many ghost houses, overgrown gardens, ghost house after ghost house, 15 along one section, matrixed by a couple of lived in houses, lawns cut. On Robson Ave corner, I snapped an overgrown demolition site, flowers growing in quake rubble.


09.12.11. Quake trashed, red zone, ghost house, Avonside Dr






09.12.11. Post quake pump, middle of red zone, Avonside Dr, nr Morris St junction


09.12.11. Quake trashed & tilted, red zone, concrete drain, Avonside Dr. Dallington Tce on opp Avon River bank The drain was demolished


On Avon River bank, at a quake raised, muddy river bend, two boys sat on steps of a quake tilted drain, raised about a metre above ground. The boys watched me while I wandered by. There was more action on Dallington Tce, on the opposite riverbank, where contractors repaired the road. The drain was soon demolished.


09.12.11. Quake trashed, red zone, ghost house, Avonside Dr






09.12.11. Quake trashed, overgrown, red zone driveway, Avonside Dr


09.12.11. Liquefaction mud on quake trashed pavement, Avonside Dr


09.12.11. Quake trashed, red zone, ghost house, Avonside Dr









A drain cleaning, CCTV truck flushed polluted water onto Avonside Dr near Bowie Pl. Fifteen months post 04.09.10 quake, Avonside Dr residents were still in shit. Fungus & shit was below floor boards & fungus was growing on walls. Red zoners would soon have respiratory complaints & children would be sick.

Post quakes, I had an allergic reaction to wind blown spores, bacterial & fungal, from all the septic muck in the red zones. My nasal cavities congested in warm, dry, windy weather, nor'westers or nor'easters & the allergic reaction only eased when weather became moist again. Sometimes my nasal cavities were congested for days. Leah said my snoring had increased at night, as it was impossible to breath through my nose during those dry times. That had only happened post quakes, a different allergic reaction to my usual spring, hay fevers. I dreaded to think of all the asbestos dust, silicon dust, chromium dust, copper dust & arsenic dust blown in the breezes from demolition sites around town.

Only after we left Christchurch, Jan 2014, for fresh Alpine air in Mackenzie Country, did my nasal allergies disappear.


09.12.11. Post quake, drain cleaning, CCTV truck, Avonside Dr.


09.12.11. Avonside Dr view of post quake, black swans on Avon River. Dallington Tce, post quake stop bank on opp bank


Bowie Pl: I stopped snapping. I'd seen enough red zone ghosts that sunny afternoon. Eight months ago, I'd snapped abandoned, boarded flats. Liquefaction mud was still there.


09.12.11. Post quake, red zone, ghost house, Avonside Dr





Over the past 15 months, I'd got used to seeing quake destruction & desolation. Avonside liquefaction prone area was shaken from First World to Third World in terrifying, muddy seconds. Considering all the water, mature trees, fecundity & imminent house demolitions, the area could be a beautiful part of the proposed Avon River Park, city to sea parkland. A memorial to shattered, displaced lives & a tribute to those who'd lived there. Avon River Park petition forms for signatures had circulated for weeks.

Over the next couple of years, most of the abandoned, red zone housing I snapped on Swanns Rd & Avonside Dr would be demolished by CERA. 


09.12.11. Post Feb 22 quake, red zone stop bank, between Avonside Dr & Avon River, near Bowie Pl


09.12.11. Post quake, red zone, ghost house, Avonside Dr, near Bowie Pl



09.12.11. Post quake, red zone, overgrown driveway, Avonside Dr, near Bowie Pl

Coda: Jan 2016. A teacher friend who lived in Dallington green zone near CERA's red zone said, "Although CERA has fenced off demolition sites along Avon River, people still dump rubbish in the red zone. Positively, I enjoy picking fruit from red zone fruit trees."

Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See NIWA water & atmospheric research.



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