Monday, June 27, 2011

On The Lighter Side.

Went to a 'Red-Zoned-People's' Earthquake meeting. Also dealing with insurance issues. Too tired and stressed to write about it you will have to hold your breath till tomorrow.

So instead I will tell you a joke.

A woman's house is destroyed by a major natural disaster. She contacts her insurance agency and starts asking them questions.

Woman: 'I'm so glad I have insurance. I've been so worried. So do you cover this?'

Insurance: 'No, sorry.'

Woman: 'So do you cover that?'

Insurance: 'No, sorry.'

Woman: 'So, do you cover this?'

Insurance: 'No, sorry.'

Woman: 'Well, why have I been paying for insurance all these years?'

Insurance: 'Peace of mind.'

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A City Zoned.

On Thursday, June 23rd, the government announcement concerning the badly damaged land in the eastern suburbs finally came. There was alot of pressure on the government to make this announcement. The task must have been huge. All the land in Christchurch had to be assessed, then it had to be assessed again after the February event, and again and again. There were areas that were badly damaged in the September 4th earthquake, including my own property and many of my neighbors, but not all. By the day of the announcement, all of my close neighbors and 80% of my street is severely damaged.

According to the NZ prime minister, this event is 8% of New Zealand's GDP. (Hurricane Katrina was 1% of the US GDP and the awful March earthquake and tsunami is about 3-5% of the Japanese GDP.) The scale of the thing is huge for a small country.

Surely the government knew there was going to be mixed reaction to the announcement. Some think the deal is too big for the country to sustain, others are sure it is not going meet their own need, others are just sad because they really just wanted the government to fix the land and the infrastructure and allow them to go on living in their home.

I guess most of those who lived in the eastern suburbs were sitting waiting on the press conference as my husband and I were. I had that nervous, fluttery feeling that comes when I'm embarking on a long journey.

Zones, red, orange, green and white. Christchurch was zoned. White,the unmapped, yet to be inspected areas, some of which are badly damaged but only in the last earthquakes. Green, go, as usual. Green zones can start repairs or rebuilds. Red, is too badly damaged and will not be rebuilt. This is where the government will step in and along-side insurance company payouts, the land will be 'bought' by the government.

I am red. As red as red can get, surrounded by red on every side. My years of living by the Avon River are done. My feelings are a profound sadness accompanied by a huge relief. My reaction (and I am not alone) is about as mixed as is possible. It had to be done, and it is best for us to go and get on with it. Yet, I can not imagine we will ever be able to live is such a beautiful place again.

I left out orange, didn't I? Orange is that badly damaged, terribly broken land that has not been made red nor been declared green. Orange zone people (10,000 homes) are the worst off in the city. Broken white zones have only been broken since February, most of the orange zones have been living in difficult circumstances since September.

Red is a sad colour these days in Christchurch. But at least it gives clarity and direction towards the future. I have no mixed feelings about that, I need to look forward now.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Something happened on June 13th. It was an earthquake, an aftershock, a 5.4. At 10:35 it shook the city, like others, many have been worse. It closed no schools or buildings, though many were checked in the night. Something different happened on 10:35 on June 13th, an aftershock dispirted this city.

I can't explain it. It could be because it is winter.

Winter and the middle of the night have the bad habit of making every problem seem worse.

Or maybe it was that bit in the newspaper that reported that the event of June 13th raised, yet again, the probability of another large aftershock. It had only been a few weeks earlier they released the information about a strong probablity of another large aftershock and a second 6.3 occurred shortly after.

Maybe it was the night of the event itself, as ten to twelve aftershocks disturbed our sleep just when we thought we were moving beyond the tiredness.

I think for most, we are just 'over it' but know that it's not over.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Everyday is a little bit weird.

I went looking at show homes today. Is it okay to get excited about building a new home after an earthquake? Is it time to start thinking about a new start?

It seems so strange to plan after what has happened. And then.... I'm in a show home, my head is turned to the material, of that there is no doubt. Can I get a better kitchen, but still have this lay-out. Is it possible to squeeze in one more room into this design?

We start to chat with the salesman. What do we do? We do what we always do in Christchurch, we exchange earthquake stories. He, too, is from the broken Eastern Suburbs. He, too, is waiting to hear if his land will be repaired or abandoned. His wife is struggling to cope with the aftershocks.

It's the story we hear over and over. Hey, it's the story I tell over and over. Once again. But then he says he is forever grateful his family was spared, because his mate's daughter, a young woman, has had both her legs amputated from her earthquake injuries.

Suddenly a damaged house and contents gone is nothing. And kitchen designs and ensuite bathrooms are trival. All I want to do is go home and see my kids.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Location, Location, Location. OR I now live in the Guilt Suburbs.

I'd heard that old expression Location, Location, Location before but I didn't know they meant for natural disasters. My location for this latest earthquake meant my experience was completely different from the other two events.

I'm from the eastern suburbs, one of the older spots in the city, close to the lovely Avon River. If you've been to Christchurch and driven the scenic drive through the city, you have past the home I own there. Location wise it is beautiful. It isn't one of the most expensive parts of the city, exactly opposite in fact. I've never understood why the western part of the city, the area closest to the airport, has always been the higher dollar property. Makes sense since September, but not before.

The first house we rented after the September fourth earthquake was close to the city center. This one was also sitting beside the lovely Avon River. Location wise, this house seemed a dream. It was the sort of location we could never afford to buy. Out the back door, through the back gate, across a walking bridge, straight into the huge Hagley Park and soon into the city. Every amendity a city dweller could wish for was in walking distance from that house.

The house I'm in now is west, close to the airport. Across the street is a Residental home for the elderly. There are early morning deliveries every day of the week. The house is big, plain and solid as a rock. The street is ordinary and I can no longer walk out and throw my left-over bread to the ducks and geese. No lovely river and it is not beautiful a location.

If you've followed my blog you know what happened to my houses during the first two earthquakes. The land moved to the river. The houses crumbled.

On June thirteen at around 1 pm, we had an earthquake, it was big. At 2:20pm we had a really big one. It was scary, and my little Maddee and my older daughter and I ran to stand in the door-way (as you do during an earthquake). We shivered with fear, and Maddee cried. This house swayed as the land trembled. When the earthquake was done, and the house stopped shaking, there wasn't even a crack to be seen.

Location, location, location. I guess what you want from location changes if you are having earthquakes.

Monday, June 13, 2011

It's Been A While...

It's been a while since I've posted on the blog. Weariness with everything to do with earthquakes has overcome me. The waiting for land information dominates my thoughts, worrying about insurance payouts consumes every free moment. It becomes hard to talk about it all and impossible to write it out. Besides, I figure, everyone must be bored with hearing about our problems.

Then, boom, we are hit by two more earthquakes. Everything on the television, everything in the news, is once again focused on Christchurch and our awful plight. It is awful. Our city is discouraged.

So adding to what you see in the news, here's some strange Christchurch earthquake thoughts.

1. Every major earthquake has come on a stunningly beautiful day. September 4th, the earthquake struck us at 4:30, the day dawned to the most beautiful spring day to that date.
Feburary 22nd was a lovely summer day, and yesterday was a gloriously sunny winter day.

2. Schools are out. The added stress level to families should not be underestimated. School provides outlet for stressed kids, it gives them a chance to mingle with their friends and talk about their experience.

3. If you want to make someone from the eastern suburbs unhappy, talk about the earthquake as if it started in Februrary. There are many of us who have been either out of our house, or living in broken houses since September.

4. The new director of CERA (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority) started his job yesterday. What a day to start that job!

5. History was made yesterday. Christchurch had an earthquake and my house didn't explode around my ears. Is that a silver lining?