Monthly Archives: September 2010

Christchurch Earthquake 2010 – 02.

As we walked along Kilmore Street towards the City, we began to see more and more evidence of damage. The magnificent classical façade of the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church, which had stood in all its Ionic majesty since 1881, was cracked badly, with parts of the balustraded parapet thrown down. The whole front of the Repertory Theatre, which was a unique piece of gaily coloured architectural frippery, was completely demolished. We came to the Colombo Street bridge, but from there all seemed normal apart from the considerable numbers of people wandering slowly, gazing about them. Just like us.

There were a few pieces of glass on Colombo Street, but nothing much to worry about. The Cathedral was still in one piece; I guess God looks after Her own, with a bit of help from the Christchurch City Council in the form of structural reinforcement. The old Chief Post Office, the Regent Building, and all the assorted monuments and statuary appeared to be unscathed as well. Warners Hotel and Bailies Bar were intact, much to my relief, but around the corner in Worcester Street it looked like a war zone.

The building on the corner of Worcester and Manchester Streets, the one housing the Westende Jewellers on the ground floor and Alvarado’s Restaurant upstairs, was in ruins, with rubble and masonry completely blocking Manchester Street. The tower of the old State Trinity Centre diametrically opposite, now the Octagon Restaurant, was looking distinctly rickety with masonry dislodged and, although little had actually fallen, dangerously opened up. Glass covered Manchester Street from burst windows in the State Insurance building. The intersection was cordoned off by a police line and various officials in reflective jackets hurried back and forth worriedly.

We made our way home back along the river towards the Fire Station. Aftershocks shook the ground at frequent intervals.

One of these aftershocks had put paid to the front of the Baptist Church. The whole façade must have been hanging by a thread when last we saw it, and a subsequent aftershock had done considerably more damage. The pediment was riven through, and the columns split. There is little likelihood that it will be saved, I fear.

The power came back on at about 1400 and for us, at least, life became almost normal again. Molly had emerged from whatever hidey-hole in which she had taken refuge. There was no damage to the house that I could find, the cupboards, doors and windows all opened and shut suggesting that everything is still plumb [or as near as it ever was]. We spent the rest day doing routine things. I prepared tea and at 1800 we sat down to watch the 6 o’clock news on TV3. Just another Saturday night at home. 

To be continued.

Christchurch Earthquake 01.

We were in bed fast asleep on Saturday morning when the quake struck at 0437am. We have had many earthquakes in the past, an experience not unlike having a heavy truck rumble past the house. This was quite different. It seemed to go on and on. The house creaked and there came the sounds of things falling. We got out of bed when the shaking stopped. Molly the cat, who had been asleep on Ruth’s pillow as usual, was nowhere to be seen.

We found candles, which we lit, enabling us to have a look around. Everything seemed to be in order, but we heard on the radio that an earthquake had struck, and at first we got the idea that it had been in the Wairarapa. Then we realised that it had been in Christchurch and felt in the Wairarapa.

It was dark and cold, so Ruth got dressed. I went back to bed, but it was soon obvious that I would not get back to sleep so after about half an hour I got up again. I hooked the little gas bottle and hob out of the shed which meant that we could make tea and coffee, and later breakfast. I made us omelettes [mushroom for Ruth, cheese for me] and then made toast by removing the grille from the front of the gas fire and toasting the bread on the flames.

Thus fortified we awaited the day, which inevitably arrived. Listening to the radio it soon became apparent that we had indeed been through The Big One, the great earthquake that everyone has been saying will come ‘one day’, but nobody ever thought that it would come to Christchurch; if I was worried about anything it would have been a tidal wave as we are only a hundred metres from the River Avon and no more than four metres above sea level. As it was, we suffered no apparent damage at all, and the only breakage was the monitor of my computer, which had fallen to the floor. Looking out over the roads and across the river everything seemed normal.

The power had gone off at the first tremor, so there was not a lot we could do, not, indeed was there anything much for us to do. At 0830 we decided to take a walk into town as see what was going on.

To be continued.

%d bloggers like this: