Today is, of course, the first anniversary of the quake that hammered Christchurch. 185 were killed and more than 11,000 were injured. The thoughts of the whole country are with Christchurch today.
Because the choice of local coverage is overwhelming, and because it is sometimes useful to get an outside perspective on events, here’s coverage from The Guardian:
Darkness at the heart of Christchurch, one year after the quake
There are new shops built from shipping containers, a theatre and a rugby ground soon to open. But at night, the empty city centre is a dark smudge among the suburban lights
Viewed at night from the southern Port Hills, the centre of Christchurch appears as a dark smudge among the suburban lights. Almost a year after the earthquake that killed 185 people in New Zealand’s second largest city, much of the central business district remains in the “red zone”, cordoned-off and uninhabited but for the work crews that pass through the security gates each day in their hundreds. …
So familiar have tremors become in Christchurch that locals are unnervingly good at instantly estimating the magnitude of an earthquake. They have had plenty of practice. Since the 7.1 quake in September 2010 – the first and biggest, which caused no fatalities in part thanks to its arrival in the middle of the night – geologists have measured more than 10,000 earthquakes in the region.
Of those, more than 400 have registered over magnitude 4.0; more than 40 have surpassed 5.0. A cluster of three earthquakes measuring up to 6.0 struck two days before Christmas, causing fresh damage to buildings, including the cathedral, and closing the airport.
Days later, the state geological agency predicted that the area could expect aftershocks to continue for more than two decades, albeit with the likelihood of diminishing severity.
Behind the deadlines of disaster, damage, and rebuilding, there are the people of Christchurch. Echoing the strains described in our own most recent post on the subject (The limits of resilience) The Guardian finds the mood weary, brittle, and frustrated.
But the mood in Christchurch is hardly one of unified optimism. Disaffection with the pace of recovery, especially in the eastern suburbs where thousands of homes are unsafe, is high. …
Leanne Curtis, spokeswoman for CanCern, a network of residents’ groups, says people need to see firm timetables for the restoration of their homes and community facilities. “Without that you become a very depressed city,” she says. “It’s a very bad place for us to be mentally – you can’t build, innovate, be entrepreneurial. You lose motivation, capacity to get up and help ourselves. You can’t remake a city out of depression.”
Communities in the east, and especially those which still await a government decision on whether their land is viable for rebuilding, are boiling over with frustration – with the insurance companies, with the authorities and with a sense of being overlooked, says Curtis. …
“There’s none of this ‘we’re so resilient, we’re so strong’ from anybody on the ground,” says Curtis. “In the east, people don’t feel resilient, they feel tired, frustrated, like nothing’s happening. There is very little vision, very little leadership, very little co-ordination.”
Today we remember the past. But tomorrow we as a country need to to step up the efforts to help the people of Christchurch. They need information, certainty, action and results. The government needs to lift its game, and the insurance industry roadblocks need to be swept away. Christchurch has waited long enough.