Destruction, death, chaos, anxiety, and worry

Monday 28 February 2011, 2:49PM
By Robyn M Speed


What is going to happen next? If this is the ‘one magnitude less’ aftershock that we were told to expect after the Sep 4th 7.1 magnitude earthquake, then (even though this one was 6.3 not 6.1) perhaps that entire saga is coming to an end? Perhaps that era of our history/present is winding down?

As time passed we did not think the ‘one magnitude less’ would happen, after all five and a half months had passed, and to be honest, many of us probably thought it would come from the same location. Instead it hit hard, and in a different location, right under Lyttleton Harbour, a quarter of the distance away from the Sep quake and half the depth. We got pummelled, there’s no other way to describe it!

We did not expect something so massive and destructive. We considered the September quake and thought that a 6.1 from the same location would not be too destructive, so we thought we—and our city—would all be okay. We did not expect what happened.

The clean up is massive. Liquifaction brought sand/silt to the surface in many places, and if you did not know any better you would wonder why we built on beaches…but these places are nowhere near a beach! They are inland. Then there is the destruction of houses, homes that are torn apart, split in half, wrecked beyond comprehension. The buildings in the city and in Lyttleton, are (to use a very technical term) munted! The CBD (central business district) is going to lose many more buildings as the badly damaged are brought down. There is talk that entire blocks of buildings will have to be demolished. We still do not know if the 22 storey high Grand Chancellor Hotel is going to fall down in a decent aftershock, or whether a controlled demolition will have to take place. None of us want that aftershock, but we also want that building down so that no one is endangered any longer.

Our central business district will never be the same again, but I hope that when it is rebuilt it will be better, more beautiful, more resilient, built upon the combined hopes and love of a city’s people. We have a chance to make a clean start in the CBD. And we have to have a monument or art work somewhere that will forever remind us of the people who died in this disaster. Let us always honour them, and acknowledge that they walked here and were loved.

As time passes people are going to get upset that things have not miraculously been fixed, that the sewerage system is not already fixed, that their houses are not fixed, that the CBD is still a mess …that nothing is happening fast enough for their liking. But let us all be patient and understand that things take time. Let us find the joy in the simplest of things, and just keep moving forward with love, compassion and patience.

In our fair city I ask this: let there be no room for anger in your heart, no room for frustration, no room for impatience, and not a single thought of uttering a harsh word.

Let kindness be the ‘way’ you live.

What is going to happen next is, to a degree, in our hands, in our hearts and in our thoughts.

We are a city that has been ravaged by the power of this earthquake…and we will honour those who died by building a better city, and being a better people. And we will treat our land with far greater respect and appreciation.