Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Out of the Cracks. The Christchurch Earthquake Aftermath

I headed down to Christchurch last week to do a bit of imbibing with friends and family for Christmas.  It was my first trip since the second of the two big major quakes, and although I knew that parts of Christchurch was in a bad way, and that I thought I knew what to expect,  I was wrong.  It takes a physical visit to see the damage, to understand even a fraction of what it would have been like for the people living in the city and what it might have been like when the earthquake hit.

I was taken to Avonside Drive - one of the worst hit areas, and in the 'Red Zone'.  That is, people have to leave the area as its no longer safe to life there.  The houses are beyond repair, and although many properties have been abandoned (and understandably so), there are still many people living in their damaged homes, holding on to what is dear to them.  I can understand their feelings.

Out of the cracks of the earthquake though, nature is slowly taking over the abandoned properties.  I've been told that if anything ever happened to the human race, it would only take 90 years or so and then nature would take over and very little trace would be found of us.  Certainly, after only 12 months in Christchurch, you can see it happening already.  The earth has chasms, the houses are ruined, but the flowers are in bloom...

This house is bent in so many ways, I couldn't even begin to align it in photoshop.  Nothing around the house was in a straight line either, so the only way I could tell was the alignment of the weeds coming out of the cracks in the pathway!
 The house next door - overgrown...
This house broke my heart.  Its obviously newly built, and like my new house, made from brick.  And this is what happened to it.  I'm on the Alpine fault, so when that goes, my house will most likely end up looking like this. Seems that wooden houses fare a bit better than the brick ones.  (Makes notes for my next house).  Notice all the liquefaction around the house as well.  It was everywhere.
The house sank.  Or the ground came up...
Whatever happened, the garage entrance is now very small.  This is Kellye - she's five foot nothing and a half.  As you can see she can touch the top of the garage, something that is usually impossible for her.  She tells me that further along, there was a house with a garage that went underground.  It filled with water.  It now has a brand new Mini sitting in the garage full of water and the car can not be retrieved.
A lovely curled deck, courtesy of the ground shaking event.
This house also sank.
Once a perfectly flat concrete driveway.  Now uneven sand.
 I took a photo through the glass with the lens up onto the window.  This is an image looking inside at the damage to the floors.  Liquefaction went right through the houses as well.
The cat door, now buried.
And everywhere the flowers bloomed beautifully, oblivious of the ruins around them.
Blooming in every conceivable crevice and crack wreaked by the huge earthquake... 
Gates can no longer be opened or shut.  My curiosity got the better of me so I wandered through...
The kitchen door was open so I took a photo of inside.  The liquefaction was all over the floor.
Bedrooms ruined, and mould now on the walls..
Carpets and underlay ruined as well.  It would be absolutely heartbreaking for any owner.
Another near new house with huge cracks in the plasterboard.  Didn't really stand a chance.
Everywhere there were port-a-loos still on the side of the roads as the sewerage system around this area is gone.  At least they were bright and colourful!
Many houses had bricks missing, some had props up on the outside holding complete sides up.

A bridge that once was almost flat, now squashed together so it rose in the middle..
Roof tiles gone...
Huge chasms in driveways...
I hope they were able to get their car out of the garage.
Bright red poppies growing in the huge chasms...

The Christchurch residents decorating road cones in preparation for Christmas..
This bridge just twisted.  Almost as if someone grabbed each end and yanked it in different directions.
I was told no one was on the bridge at the time of the quake.  Thank goodness for that...
Can you imagine the noise it would have made?  Not only the earthquake giving out a noise like a freight train, but the grinding of metal and concrete when the bridge twisted?

A city rubbish bin also got munted..
And the last word came from the locals...  They didn't like my photojournalism and mum wanted to protect her ducklings from nosy photographers.  I took the hint and left...
I have vertigo pretty much 24/7 anyway, but being in Christchurch it was 10x worse than normal.  Being in buildings that were on a slant because of uneven foundations, made me feel dizzy and sick.  Driving around on the roads full of potholes made me feel like one of those toy dogs that used to be in the back windows of cars, which used to nod their heads as they go over bumps.

I take my hats off to all those hardy people in Christchurch, and I am looking forward to visiting again to take photos of the rebuild.  You have my utmost respect.


DAve Beaty (davincipoppalag) said...

Wow. it's amazing what nature can do.. I remember seeing the photos of Anchorage after the 64 quake..and seeing places we had been often totally destroyed.. amazing.. they had a show on the history channel or discovery. I forget which it was.. called something like.. after people or some such.. anyway it was to show what nature does to reclaim things after certain time periods.. it was pretty amazing... anyway Happy New Year Robyn.. hope you're doing well. Dave B

Robyn said...

Thanks Dave - happy new year to you too. May 2012 be full of great things!


Żaneta said...

I can not even imagine what people who live there feel, during and after the quake! I bow my head in front of people! Everything can be rebuilt ..... but if this is the end ..... or can not happen again ..... bad is happening in the world .... and u us in Poland, was a small earthquake, thanks to God, and tiny do not take damage! Yours nice and warm - Zaneta

Nikki Jensen said...

Hi Robyn

I am writing a fact sheet for workers about the health aspects of moulds/fungi in properties in Christchurch post-earthquake. Two of the photos on your blog really highlight this problem, and I was wondering if you would give permission for me to include them in the factsheet? You will be ackonwledged as the photographer.

kind regards,

Nikki Jensen
Senior Advisor, Standard Setting, Labour Group
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
Tel: +64 4 915 4336 | Mob: +64 27 3210 209
56 The Terrace Wellington, PO Box 3705, Wellington 6011