We’ve just returned from a trip south, spending a night in Christchurch on the way home. The city was so different from my last visit, a couple of weeks before the February earthquake. We left the car close to the apartment we lived in, in Park Terrace. That building seem to have survived quite well and was inhabited.
Latest news: my friend Terry has just sent me a link to a video taken along the route of the bus tours, with a very good commentary by Warwick Isaacs, Demolition MAnager for CERA (Chch Earthquake Recovery Authority). Long, but well worth watching.
It’s now after 9pm on Tuesday 22 February and our thoughts have been focussed on Christchurch for the past 8 hours or so. My wife was due to travel to Greymouth today for a couple of days. That trip is now off. Instead we are glued to the TV screen and supporting a friend from Christchurch who will be staying with us tonight. The disaster in Christchurch has got very close to home indeed.
My wife worked for four years in an office in Christchurch before moving to the Nelson branch. She was on the 5th (and top) floor of the CTV building near Latimer Square. That building fell down today. At the moment it’s still on fire. Her manager was in Nelson today and together they watched a couple of the Chch staff describing on TV a miraculous escape. They were at a meeting, about ten people in a room on that 5th floor, plus a baby. Then the earthquake hit, by all accounts much worse shaking than the September one. The whole building collapsed, their floor dropped, a wall fell out and they found themselves at ground level, able to be helped out by the people outside. Right now all but one of that team are accounted for, some with serious injuries. It is remarkable! We have no news about the person still trapped and our thoughts are with her. These are friends and colleagues.
The massive earthquake of last weekend in Christchurch is still very much in our minds right now. Here are some images from the area still cordoned off, taken at a happier time. The Christchurch Arts Centre in fact used to be the home of Canterbury University. When my wife and I attended that university the campus was split over the two sites. She had most of her lectures in these buildings, while I had Chemistry II lectures here and the rest out at Ilam (its present location). The “town site” is a lovely spot:
I bought a local paper when I travelled to Christchurch the other day. I was struck by the content of the front page that day: almost 2/3 was taken up with two major stories. One was about a nine-year-old girls’s disappointment, the other about Cadbury changing the recipe for one of their sweets!