June 30, 2013

Final Cordon Lifted in Christchurch


The final fences blocking accessto the inner city have been removed and the defence forces have left the city after years of help since the Feb earthquake. We have got used to the sight of tanks and camo uniforms at street corners everywhere... keeping the people out of the danger zones. A ceremony was held to thank them for their help, particularly through many long dark nights, in all weathers for two and a half years.

Soldiers remove fences around the CBD

The soldiers who have watched over Christchurch's inner city red zone for the last two-and-a-half years clocked off for the last time today, ahead of Sunday's official lifting of the entire cordon.
And for two soldiers, it is the end of the longest deployment of their careers.
It's not the front line, but for nearly two and a half years these soldiers have held the line.
Deployed in the wake of the February quake, these territorial soldiers have been the gatekeepers of the red zone ever since.
In 12-hour shifts, day and night, 365 days a year - with just a hut for shelter - they've checked the red zone pass of every person who's come and gone.
Corporal Rahera Falwasa was one of the first to be deployed - she was also amongst the last to leave.
"Our city broke, and it's about being here watching it get put back together again and to be in place to make sure that happens safely."
In the early days the soldiers hunted for looters and kept the city on lockdown.
But as time marched on their role changed, almost becoming tour guides.
"I know some of them carry maps with them and show people where to go, give people to directions to nearest cafe or to the bus exchange or library," Corporal Pete Seddon says.
Ms Falwasa says aside from the official lists they kept, the soldiers also developed their own categories of sightseers that tried to breach the cordon.
"There are vampires - they're the ones that come out at night. There are ghouls, they're the ones that there are photos of where the bad things happened, and there are ghosts, you know they're there but you can't see them."
But she says in the last few months she noticed just how much the public wanted their city back.
"When the fences come down, it's going to happen like any deployment - you know you're there for a purpose and once the job's done you move on."
At 3pm today the soldiers knocked off for the last time. They'll be thanked for their efforts at a parade in the city on Sunday.See video and read more: http://www.3news.co.nz/Cordon-lifts-on-Christchurch-CBD/tabid/423/articleID/303107/Default.aspx#ixzz2Xgs5uTAV

This weekend, people could finally get up close and see the buildings clearly.  Perhaps what is worse is all the gaps between the damaged buildings.
From the pictures I have seen so far, it was a sad time for most who ventured in.  I struggle to drive through some of the newly opened areas, let alone walk them. The disorientation is enormous. The sense of loss for locals very hard to bear.  I guess it is easier for vistors - they dont really know what it was like before.

My friend Lisa took these pix today.

There are some more great shots at http://www.christchurchdailyphoto.com/2013/06/30/no-more-cordon-in-the-central-city/

Perhaps I can get in there next weekend. It will be strange to actually walk across the square agin!

1 comment:

  1. For a second when I looked at that I had a flashback to the city where I was born and the bomb damaged buildings. In reality the cause was different but the effect pretty much the same. Of course that only applies to the buildings and not to the land itself.


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