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.