Earthquake Report Day 6 (27 February)
Yesterday, 27 February, we finally completed the last of the serious liquefaction clearance. There is still a lot of finishing off to be done, but the major part of the material that was clogging the driveway, garage and surrounds to the house has been removed—and what can now be seen is interesting, to say the least. The driveway is no longer a level length of asphalt, but now boasts interesting landscape features in the form of ‘escarpments’ and ‘rising ground’.
Even more interesting are the sunken bricks in the path. When you peer through the gap you realise that there’s nothing there, because all the sub-surface material has been forced out.
Having got to this stage, I have resolved to give myself tomorrow to rest—which I basically have not done for the past six days—and decide on ‘what next’. There are still an awful lot of people in need out there, and having received so much help myself I feel that it is important to help others. It is just a matter of deciding what is the most effective way to do that.
Since February 22, I have felt incredibly fortunate in the strength of the community around me (as described in the past few posts.) But I am starting to hear stories that make me realise that even with all the liquefaction, we have still been incredibly fortunate compared to suburbs where homes have been flooded, (tile) roofs lost, windows and masonry has exploded, and where homes, vehicles and people have been trapped by subsidence.
A phrase we have been hearing a lot, especially about the central city, is that it is like a war zone. Together with reports of the devastation in other suburbs, this got me thinking about the difference between such a massive natural disaster and the devastation caused by an actual war. Aside from the obvious causal difference and the fact that no one (so far anyway) has been shooting at anyone else, it occurs to me that the major difference with a natural disaster, even of this magnitude, is the expectation that eventually, rescue will come. Somewhere out there, help is on its way.
Over the past six days, I have felt that it was incredibly important to get on and do what I could myself—but I believe it is a tribute to our NZ society that I have never doubted for a moment that official help would arrive (even beyond the amazing way in which friends and neighbours have been right there from the beginning.) And my confidence has proven to be well founded. Even given the devastation in the central area, a council team was on our street clearing debris on Day 4. By Day 6, representatives of the EQC (Earthquake Commission) were going door to door to assess need in the area. And tonight, even as I write this, I can hear machinery working on the main road, beginning the process of fixing one or other of the essential services.
So like a war zone, perhaps, but not a war zone simply because the infrastructure of a functioning society is there. We do have each other’s backs at the personal, community and national level, and I hope that sense of working together will endure once we move past the crisis phase and into recovery—a process that I suspect is going to take years, not months, and will be very tough with so many homes and businesses (and by implication jobs/livelihoods) lost and so much rebuilding to do. And sometimes it is that long haul, once the adrenaline has stopped pumping, that is the greatest challenge—but one I believe that we can meet if we continue to support each other.