Sunday, September 4, 2011

Daaa, da da, da-da dah...

Wow. One whole year since the first Canterbury earthquake and the end of normal life for everybody living there. Though it was a shock (sorry) at the time, to discover that there were fault lines where no-one had ever suspected them before, what's been more dismaying for all of us since last September 4th is to find that a big earthquake like that 7.1 isn't always a one-off spectacular - it can also be the pilot of a series. A long, long series that, fingers crossed, won't end up taking on the longevity of something like Coronation Street.

A new video of the Christchurch Red Zone shows a city that's almost unrecognisable: full of empty spaces, fenced-off pavements in front of crumbling terraces full of cracks and holes, rough unsealed roads, crooked buildings, heart-breakingly familiar Christchurch icons like the Cathedral all in pieces, surrounded by piles of rubble and propped up with girders - and every so often something apparently completely unscathed, like the tall glass BNZ building, or the Millennium Chalice that looks so delicate. And not one person anywhere.

The only good news from that first quake was that no-one died. I've read that hundreds of times - but in fact someone did that day, of a heart attack undoubtedly caused by the stress. Now that the aftershock count - including the biggies on 22 February and 13 June - is up to 8529, including a 5.1 on Friday and a 3.3 today, it wouldn't be in the least surprising to learn that Christchurch's collective heart is failing. But it's not, it can't, and it won't. Kia kaha, Christchurch.

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