Blog entries seem somewhat superfluous at the moment when so much of a city nearby to us has been destroyed by a major earthquake and people have died.
Coincidently, we had stopped by the side of the road for a break when the van started rocking quite heavily. My first reaction was that something was pushing or rocking the van, because I could not see anything, I then opened the door of the van to see if the van was sinking into the soft soil on the side of the road because I had parked badly but that was not the case. Then, because we were close to Christchurch, I assumed it was an aftershock of the earthquake last year – unfortunately I was wrong, it was the real thing.
As I write this, the news stations have gone into overdrive and we can see the devastation we have just missed – we are completely unaffected by it and are parked safely in a large field away from buildings etc. Others are not so lucky. We are due to be in central Christchurch one week from today (that now seems very unlikely since the 26 storey hotel we were due to stay in is on the verge of collapse) and to return home the following day – it seems trite to worry about the earthquake affecting that and us when so many have been seriously affected.
The next day: It is obvious from the news stories that we can do nothing to assist Christchurch other than donate to the disaster fund and so we are going further north as planned to Arthur’s Pass and keep in touch with the situation – and hope that the continuous aftershocks do not make the matter worse for them. The death toll is rising fast and the true enormity of this disaster is beginning to hit home.
As visitors, we feel that New Zealanders should be very proud at how they are dealing with this, the examples we have heard of communities pulling together are numerous and the human face of some of the people having to deal with the tragedy is humbling. We particularly remember how the Christchurch Coroner explained what she was doing and how she cared.
We are hoping to return home as planned in March but that does depend on the travel situation at least not worsening.
Postscripts: People seeking information on the earthquake naturally seem to get directed to this page by search engines so I am putting more information here rather than in later blog entries.
Since the 6.3 earthquake, there have been hundreds of aftershocks but thank goodness, no new earthquake, something which everyone fears. The death toll is heading towards the 200 mark, Christchurch CBD seems that it will be out of action for months, water is starting to flow again, power connections are happening, the situation on sewage is less good. You do meet people who have had enough of the city and have packed up and moved out either temporarily or permanently but there is no sense of a mass movement.
For those outside of Christchurch, life is pretty normal. There are no fuel shortages worth noting and food is in good supply. The airport is operating fairly normally although there are some delays and a lot more flights because Air New Zealand have pulled the stops out to shuttle people into and out of Christchurch at cheap fares. The airport is in the north west of the city and this is an area fairly unaffected by the quake.
No one in the right mind would try going into the CBD (Central Business District) because a lot of it is destroyed and much of it is damaged although some rubber neckers with cameras are doing this.
So in summary, if you are flying into the city or driving around it, there are few problems and it is perfectly safe.
New Zealanders still continue to handle themselves with dignity and tremendous courage and they should be proud of themselves.