Inside the "Central Business District Red Zone" - May 3rd 2012
The aftermath of an earthquake, after the shaking settles, the clean up continues. It doesn't really matter whether you are familiar with Christchurch - anyone watching this video can appreciate the empty spaces, the occasional high rise still standing - often only because it hasn't been demolished yet.
I watched this thinking of Gotye's song - "Somebody that I used to know...."- only it is somewhere not someone. Utterly disorientating - whiile impressed at the progress, the cleansing look of all the sites left, the careful recycling and the hard work from many people, it is hard not to feel depressed. The rebuild is slow to take off - signs or repair and construction are out there in the suburbs, but not here in the Red Zone, where we have not been allowed to enter since Feb 2011 unless in controlled bus tours or following fenced walkways to farewell the Cathedral.
While we cope with this, the increasing housing shortage grows worse. Rents have skyrocketed - why charge $400 a week when you can get $150 a night for short term people - who are desperate for somewhere while their homes are repaired. EQC insist that homes are completely emptied, including curtains, while the work is done, which makes sense for major work like repiling, new walls and floors, but is probably not essential for paint and plastering! So pets are boarded, storage is sought and people do get out, into these rental places or temproary homes or caravans or relatives, mainly using the insurance payouts to pay for it all. Meanwhile, people renting in the areas whose houses have been condemned in the suburban red zones, are finding they will soon have no where to live - or anywhere they can afford to rent.
And quietly, sadly, in the background, many families are facing the reality they have no way of renting anything with pets. Displaced and facing being homeless, their priorities have to be with shleter and providing for their children and a wave of animals are appearing for rehoming, or euthanasia, or ultimately abandonment. Appeals have been made to landlords to relax their rules in an attempt to stop more families losing their pets on top of everything else.