March 4, 2011

We have lost a city we once knew

National - NZ Herald Pictures

Today we got our power back on; we are not sure what to do with it.  It seems normal now to use other things; to put water on the stove, wash dishes by hand, sponge bath, and use candles at night. We haven't been bothered by the loss of the tv really - and it seems strange to have it on, with lights burning! It was nice to come home to a vaccumed house though :)

Meanwhile, we are still restricting power, as requested by the power networks - fridge, tv, light and hot water at any one time.... so no dishwasher, limited washing machine....  and as the water is still on a boil-before-use basis, I am not sure I trust a dishwasher anyway. So I hand washed the dishes tonight and as there is little fresh food in the house and none in the fridge, we made pancakes on the gas.

I am so grateful we did have gas available this past week to boil water, and not just the outside barbecue, but hobs in the kitchen. A gas camping stove should be in your survival packs... with your bleach, Wet ones, hand sanitiser, handee towels, and saucepans and a frying pan. And we have been lucky; it is summer and today was 30degrees C. The weather is meant to turn very cold tomorrow with snow down to 1000m and with winter looming, like many other people here, we have no heating that doesn't use some form of electricity. Our gas fire is out of commission since the chimney was removed and we need a builder to restore the flue... don't imagine we will get a heat pump in a hurry now. The thought of the reassuring glow of a log burner is actually becoming quite appealing... we can't light the sealed gas fire unless we have power!  We are all worried how we will cope for days in the mid winter if this all happens again. Don't like those portable gas heaters :(

I had to circuit the city again today. I visited the same area as the prime minister; I think I saw more, and I smelt the sewage strongly crossing over towards New Brighton through the suburbs. All this, with swirling dust in many places too.

Liquefaction Pile

The road home

Water available here....

Drains have raised - or roads have dropped?

Across the road from home - peaceful

There are some more pictures here... the media have focused on the inner city rubble, but please see what many people are living with. The photo at the top is from this series too.

Devastation in the suburbs - National - NZ Herald Pictures

Tonight a friend wrote on Facebook:
2 pple at wrk told me 2day "I dont feel I have a right to feel bad about the quake" regarding themselves because they lost nothing significant. Everyone who experienced the 22nd of has lost something, trust, fear, terror, the unknown, they have lost a sense of security and survived a disaster, we have lost a city we once knew.

I was also struck by reading this on Adrienne's blog yesterday and so I went back to find it after reading that friends' comments. 
Like all of Christchurch's earthquake survivors, I tell myself how lucky I am to be alive.
I felt that before any of these bastard earthquakes hit; but now I feel it with a new intensity. I tell myself I shouldn't be moaning about having to spend five days digging out smelly liquefaction, or about a rotten window that has been unceremoniously hurried toward the end of its life and how I am going to get it fixed before winter when there is a shortage of builders in Christchurch; or about the multitude of cracks that have opened up in the fabric of this weird little place I call home. I tell myself these are minor things and that I must stop prattling on about it when people have lost family members in crushed city buildings.
But the strange truth of ongoing earthquakes is their ability to render us all victims.
We are all suffering in different ways and we shouldn't feel guilty about the small pains and worries. Any assault on our sense of normality, our inherent need for comfort, continuity, calm, control and connectedness is a legitimate cause for concern.

And they are both right.


  1. You continue to bring home to those of us who have not experienced the quake first hand, who have heat, light and power and who are not shaken each day and night that we have nothing to moan about.

  2. There's talk of a quake like you had here in Portland sometime in our future. And you reinforce the need for having a sufficient supply of survival gear and food. I'm glad things are slowly getting back to "normal". I can't imagine what you have gone through.

  3. I don't know if you're feeling the impact of my prayers here in the state of Indiana in the USA, but I am praying for your beautiful country daily. Is there some other way that a retiree with limited funds can help?

  4. You're post hit home. We try to be brave all the time and do what we can but on the other side we are afraid and mourn about a lost city. It is a difficult situation

  5. Glad to read your power is back on. Sounds like you're still having after shocks, which has to be very stressful. We're so sorry so much of your beautiful city was so badly damaged. We hope your government does a better job of rebuilding than ours has done with New Orleans. And we hope the poor guy washing dishes in the gutter [!!] gets some running water, or at least access to a water tanker.

    Seems to us it's legitimate to mourn your losses, even if they weren't as severe as the losses of others. They're still losses and they deserve to be recognized, respected and assimilated so they don't fester inside.

    Jed & Abby


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