Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Impact of the Christchurch Earthquake in Wellington

The first we heard of this big earthquake was when we woke up and looked at the flood of enquiries awaiting us on facebook. "Are you alright?", "Can you let us know if you're alive?", "Can you take some pictures", "Is your house still standing?". These were just some of the messages we received. It was a bit embarrassing when I had to inform all these kind people that yes we were all fine, in fact we had actually slept through the whole thing.

It has been quite a wake up call for us here in Wellington. Watching the news footage has been quite unsettling. I have found myself glued to the multitude of real life lucky escapes and heart rending stories of homes and livelihoods that will be lost forever. The boy that had he not jumped out of bed would have been trapped under the falling wall and the woman dragged from her bed just in time as her floor collapsed beneath her. It is miraculous that there was no loss of life and had it happened at a different time of day it would have been very different.

I find myself continually wondering whilst driving to work or washing up, what would happen now if Wellington suffered an earthquake at this moment. Where are my kids, what would they do. Would P be okay in the centre of Wellington. How would I get to them if roads were blocked or there was a Tsunami? It has certainly brought home the reality of living in a Quake zone.

Strangely all this worrying has not made me want to return back to the UK. Despite the horrendous news footage and constant reminders of the ever present risk I still don't want to live anywhere else. I am not sure whether its the subconscious belief that "It will never happen here" which is obviously ridiculous as it will one day. Or perhaps its the belief that we will get through it. After all no one died in Christchurch?

I am obviously not the only person that has been re-alerted to the risks of living on an active fault line. Local newspapers in Wellington reported that during the first few days following the earthquake in Christchurch the supermarkets here sold out of all their emergency kits. Clearly other Wellingtonians felt that they had better stock up in case this meant the big one was on the way.

They Mayor of Wellington is also clearly concerned as he states that 600 Wellington buildings may need strengthening in order to withstand an earthquake of the same magnitude that hit Christchurch.

Apparently the council has recieved hundreds of calls from people concerned about the buildings they work in and wanting to know what to do should the big one hit. Its rather worrying that it has taken an earthquake close to home to make people wake up to the fact that at some point in the near future Wellington will be hit by a large quake. Its not a question of If but When!

Birthdays and Mindless Violence.

We awoke late today as we always tend to do on a Sunday. Well my husband and I do. J and A tend to awake as soon as the first rays of sun peak over the hills. They spent the first hours playing in their bedrooms. This enables us to gradually come too against the background noise of various stuffed animals talking in high pitch voices. Its a perfect and leisurely start to a Sunday morning.

Unfortunately this Sunday morning was spoilt when we opened the curtains in my daughters bedroom and glanced across the road to our neighbours house and saw that their post box had been smashed off the stand and was now lying on its side in the middle of the pavement. We then rushed down to check our post box was still there. But no, ours had also been knocked off its post and was now smashed up and lying forlornly on its side.

A friend of mine volunteers for the local community watch and I have sat and listened with great amusement to her various tales about what bored local youth will get up to. She has told me several times about how they like to drive around the estate at night hanging out of the window with a baseball bat to see how many post boxes they can knock down. Well I imagine this is what they got up to last night as a quick trip to the shops revealed that quite a few houses in our street were obviously visited by these deranged moonlight vandals with a fetish for knocking down post boxes.

I suppose I shouldn't really complain as this is the only crime we have come across in our 18 months in New Zealand and its not exactly a major crime. In the UK I had to make sure all the doors of my car where locked as I drove home. Two men had opened the back door of my car as I stopped at a junction and grabbed my laptop bag from the back seat. That was very frightening and resulted in a tug of war between me and one of the men as I vainly tried to cling onto the bag. The police didn't even bother turning up for a statement.

It has been J's 6th Birthday this weekend and I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who sent presents and good wishes. We brought her a camera and she has spent most of the weekend taking pictures so here are a selection of her photos.

Her little sister.

Some fruit and veg.

Our local cafe in the rain.

The meat counter in our local supermarket.