On September 4th, 2010 a 7.1 earthquake struck the south island. The quake caused widespread damage, power outages, injured 2 people from a falling chimney and flying broken glass. There is debate on whether the one person who died of a heart attack was the result from the earthquake. Mass fatalities were avoided by the timing of this quake, as it happened early in the morning at 4:35am.
Then, on February 22, 2011 at 12:51 in the afternoon, another quake struck. This one, a magnitude of 6.3 caused extreme damage across Christchurch, especially in the central city and eastern suburbs, with damage exacerbated by buildings and infrastructure already being weakened by the 4 September 2010 earthquake and its aftershocks. Significant liquefaction affected the eastern suburbs, producing around 400,000 tons of silt. The earthquake was reported to be felt across the South Island and the lower and central North Island. In total, 185 people were killed in the earthquake, making this earthquake the second-deadliest natural disaster recorded in New Zealand (after the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake), and fourth-deadliest disaster of any kind recorded in New Zealand, with nationals from more than 20 countries among the victims. Over half of the deaths occurred in the six-story Canterbury Television (CTV) Building, which collapsed and caught fire in the quake. The government declared a state of national emergency, which stayed in force until 30 April 2011.
While traveling within and around Christchurch we continued to see damaged buildings, empty lots, and buildings with red or orange tags indicating that they would not be salvaged and would be (eventually) torn down. Because of the sheer amount of damaged buildings in the region the department responsible for handling the inspections is, obviously, overwhelmed and still working to complete inspections at this date.
We were told that 8,000 residents moved out of Christchurch. Some because their homes were destroyed, others because their nerves were destroyed. But the ones that stayed are amazing. I cannot hope to put on “paper” the mindset of these stalwart individuals.
*One story, in particular, that was shared with us struck close to home. A young man, attending college was unable to attend as the school was closed. Knowing that the area he was in had been affected dramatically by silt from liquefaction he garnered the help of other ag students and their families to bring farm equipment into town to clean up the silt. Other stories… a “student army” banded together to clean up debris, silt, and damages throughout the area. The hotel we stayed at in Christchurch, Pavilions, although incurring damages that were devastating in itself, cleaned up, opened up and offered hot food to the area – serving approximately 250 people a day. If you care to read more stories I found this site: 4hundredthousand stories that will give you an idea of the magnitude of the Kiwi’s spirit and goodness.
The one thing that stood out the most to all of us… in talking with the folks of Christchurch and it’s surrounding areas… they all took it upon themselves to “fix” their community… they weren’t looking for their government to “make it work for them”… they got up, dusted themselves off, and got to work… repairing, cleaning, fixing, healing, feeding, housing… they just got to work on getting life back to whatever normal was going to be for them.