As far as residences are concerned, there’s no doubt that the suburb of Bexley in Christchurch was the worst hit during the 2011 earthquake. As an eastern-suburb resident myself, it seems easy to consider our street amongst the worst hit and yet a journey a few hundred metres down the road tells a different story.
Today I took a drive around the residential area between Bexley and New Brighton. It was a stark reminder to be thankful for the situation we’re in and perhaps not complain too much that our garden wall hasn’t yet been rebuilt.
Note: for those that ‘missed out’, here’s a blog post I wrote just after the very first earthquake in September 2010, and another with a lot more photos after the second quake in February 2011 (this one was a couple of days later which is a good indication of the disruption the quake caused!).
Back to today and the sensation as I drove around Bexley still remains truly haunting. Old curtains hang out of broken windows and flutter in the wind. Houses slump into the ground on one side or in the middle, unnaturally bending the house in half. Garage doors no longer fit the hole they were meant to fill and sit on awkward angles. And like a scene out of I Am Legend, huge weeds claim back driveways and lawns.
Most surprising were the residents that still refuse to move from the area. A few of them remain, scattered amongst the abandoned homes. Their lawns neatly mown in contrast to the jungles on either side of them and their cars parked in their driveways in defiance of neighbouring buildings which lean precariously towards them.
Saddest of all are the messages that have been scrawled on walls and garage doors by departing locals. At one end of the scale, thanking the family home for the memories, and at the other end of the scale cursing the looters which have made a bad situation that much more unbearable.
All of the photos in this post were taken today, 26th January 2013. Just under two years after the February 11th 2011 6.3 earthquake.