WINTER

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Post Earthquake Christchurch

This blog has been inspired by an email I received from my very good friend Emily that I felt I must share. I met Emily in Wellington when she was a Floor Manager for TVNZ and have known her for 20 odd years. I have walked the Heaphy Track with her, been to her wedding to Rex in Christchurch and shared numerous meals with her and drunk her lovely Wairarapa wine...her Dad was a highly respected lawyer in Christchurch and her family have lived in Christchurch for over 150 years...this piece is written by her sister Lucy and is for all of us who cannot even begin to imagine what daily life in Christchurch has become.

"HI to you all, this is a link some one has sent me, but sadly this is just the tip of the Christchurch iceberg. Many shots you will have seen. for those of you getting bored, skip them by. They say a picture paints a thousand words, but it takes a million words, to stand amidst the rubble and truly express, the full impact of this. September 4 was a warm-up to Feb 22.

As you will know by now, the earth has spoken to us with a tune we are now very familiar with, and has changed our city for ever. My family settled here 150 years ago, and now, their hallmarks, our heritage, have been destroyed. But being true Kiwis, we will rise again. Our community has grown in strength and fortitude, but we have a long road ahead of us to get back to Sept 3rd.

"Camping" has taken on a new perspective, but I am grateful to still have my own bed and a roof over my head.
With No power, water, sewage, or cellphone coverage, or phone lines, it has been a wake up call for all the amenities that we take for granted. Such things as having transport, shops, banks, and waiting 4 hours for water, was also a wake up call.

Once the fridge and freezer had rotted, it wasn't for me, so much the power that I missed, as I had gas for cooking and a damn efficient Hooded BBQ that worked like a convection oven, even worked perfectly to cook pastry. As I had gas, my kitchen became the neighbourhood kitchen. I learnt to be organised and use the daylight hours efficiently, and appreciate the power of an efficient candle, and the placement of it to get the best light. It took at least a week for me to stop trying to flick on the light switch.

Collecting water and boiling it is a bit of a chore, but do-able, and by gathering for others, increased efficiency. It uncovered for me just how much water we consume. My garden had to wilt, as my washing water was not enough to keep it watered.  My brother rigged up a very much appreciated and popular hot shower via his solar heating, but with out running water, we would have to climb on to the roof,  pour a bucket of water in to a container, pump it up to an improvised header tank, to have a shower. Pure Bliss bringing a smile to every customer. We would catch the initial run off of cold water from the hot cylinder, which always amazed me, -about half a bucket that would normally run down the drain, would then be recycled.

There was a Rest home over the road in similar circumstances, and I knew from my Rest Home  days, that there would be a few oldies in need of a shower, so we wheeled them over the road and returned them clean and very happy. I then collected others that were still managing in the community, via the water tanker, and showered them and returned them squeaky clean.

The "smallest room" was my biggest stretch, With only a small garden, one has to be creative with a "longdrop" as sewage infrastructure was out of action along with the water. for some, having no garden, was no longer the desired, low maintainence option.
Not having power meant we didn't get TV, so it felt weird that so much was happening, that we could hear about, but not get the graphic  images, or Internet. The wonderful transistor radio, supplied by the power company, was our life line to the outside world. The roads were very dodgy and at times we were isolated, by rock falls and broken roads.

There have been very many incredible pieces, over the past few weeks, and I am proud to live in community that can mobilise and get going, working tireless hours, with numerous, helping hands, from, neighbours, communities, nationally, and internationally.  All working with absolute, focus on the task at hand, never stopping, never slowing down. "Armys" from all walks of life mobilised, digging, or feeding the army's, or picking off rubble, or delivering food, baking, delivering or emptying portoloos. None I doubt, even had to be asked, they just appeared. Organisation, on a scale that, if it was organised, would for sure, have had many hitches, but it appeared to roll like clockwork. Groups of people "popping up" and doing tasks, then leaving.

We are a very grateful community, and city. As I pass them,  I thank every worker, every solider, cop, SARS person, Fireman, digger driver, or signalman I pass in the Street. Even if it is just a "thumbs up", They all look  me in the eye, smile,  and either nod, or say your welcome. I thanked one Aussie cop, gave him a hug, and said we are extremely grateful for you and your crew for coming. He looked me in the eye and said, " This has been the most rewarding experience I have ever had in the 15 yrs in the force, I have worked on some big jobs, but never been welcomed with such open arms and true gratitude and taken in to communities as I have here. It will be with me forever" 
 It has been this goodwill that has lubricated this city over the past few weeks. Egos fallen by the wayside as we unite picking in up the pieces.

Slowly we are naming the missing, burying the dead as the toll rises, and we see up close, the true size of this monster, it starts sinking in. We wonder what is next, but reflect on what we have, and what we can create just as our forefathers did. Right now, the dust is settling, and we are taking stock. The rocks that keep falling, the flooding, the silt, the dust, the liquefaction, the dirty carpets, the broken roads and houses, the fallen trees and those being felled, are a further reminder along with the rocking, of what has happened.

There are many, stories, many hero's, and many acts of kindness, and a whole heap of Kiwi ingenuity. true #8 fencing wire mentality. I have seen this even in the young, and  elderly, making do with just what they had.

Slowly we are returning to some type of normality, but it is a long way from where we were.

To those who have left, come back, and join the team.
To those afar, we are asking for your good wishes, patience and support.
I will not bore you with more details as I'm sure the media will cover that.

contemplating,
much love
Lucy

Pic's http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/02/earthquake-in-new-zealand/100013/

if you would like to donate to the earthquake appeal that is supporting our community this is the link http://www.redcross.org.nz/donate

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very touching and moving. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cantabrians but I'm aware that we are able to forget sometimes, able to carry on with our lives, whereas theirs will never be the same. They don't get a break. It's heartening to hear about the ways people are pulling together and helping each other as they are able, and it makes me proud to be a Kiwi. Erica

Joan said...

A very moving post. I had tears in my eyes and all this makes me very proud and grateful to be a kiwi and live in this land. Thanks for sharing,