France the French way


Christchurch Earthquake - One Week On.

Posted: 2011-03-01

We have no cars, but for this I’m quite pleased. We can’t drive anywhere and so can’t see the entire destruction of my city Christchurch. Now we don’t even want to watch the TV coverage. One day we will recover our vehicles from the town centre, but we’d rather not see it right now.

We have been shown over the last week how even in the worst of times, you see the best of people, and this has been the most humbling of experiences.

We strive to retain our sense of humour and strive to remain positive. There are no shortages of stories around us, some that make us laugh and many that make us cry.

There was a friend who had parked outside a shop while he bought some provisions. During the quake the building fell down on to his car and flattened it. In desperation he had to get to his young children’s school. On the other side of the road was a Nissan car dealership. He ran over the road and said “quick I must have a car to get my children”. The dealer promptly threw him the keys for the new latest model Nissan and told him to go quickly. No names given, just go! The car was so new it didn’t even yet have number plates!

Then there was the story of the family whose dog ran from the home not to be seen for six hours after the quake, yet when it returned it was leading five other traumatised dogs. The owners looked after these dogs until they could find their owners! A similar story comes from our local traiteur who returned home to find his horses kneeling in a circle in their paddock. We are all affected.

Several times a day now we have a TV briefing from our Mayor and various experts. Supporting these experts we have a person giving the briefing in sign language (for the deaf). My 9 year old nephew visited us yesterday and proudly informed us of all the sign language he had learnt over the last week. He had mastered the signs for earthquake, after-shock, and dust – the only words we need to know at the moment!

Flooding is not something you would think of when you hear of an earthquake, but for much of Christchurch this was a major concern. Liquefaction is where water and silt is forced up through the ground from subterranean aquifers when under intense pressure. Our properties have been inundated with viscous sludge and water. It has been a week of heavy tiring digging clearing our properties. Drains are blocked with this thick sludge rendering drains and sewage systems inoperable. Yesterday I bought a supply of chemical toilets for my neighbours – we were so excited! If I knew a week ago that I’d be out buying a chemical toilet I would not have been laughing or as excited as I am today!!

Everyone knows of someone whose home has been destroyed. A home isn’t the same as a building – a home is where children have been born and brought up, a home is full of love and memories, a home is where all those “first” events take place, first steps, first words, first giggles, first friends.

Devastation is a word being used. It seems impossible to think of how much some people are suffering. We have a parent from school, who in ten seconds on 22 February at 12.51pm lost his home, his business, and his son.

If you are in a position to make a donation to assist our recovery efforts please visit the Red Cross website.

Personally I would like to thank all you wonderful people out there who have been in contact with us over the last week. I feel like I have heard from every person in France, Australia, America, and other countries as well. Your support and best wishes helps us all so much!

Knox Church - one of so many churches destroyed in the Christchurch earthquake.
My local shops in Merivale, Christchurch
My office was just a mess, nothing more. Other peoples' offices were destroyed.
This is the liquefaction sludge being cleared by these wonderful volunteers from my properties. Back breaking work. More than 150,000 tonnes needs to be cleared from Christchurch.