A friend of mine in Christchurch recently visited Wellington. When she got back, her first remark was how strange it felt to be in a city centre again.
As time goes by and we continue as best we can with our daily lives, it’s amazing how you start to forget that we haven’t seen Christchurch city centre for months.
Yesterday marked the 5 month anniversary of the 22nd February aftershock that caused so much damage to buildings in the CBD. And this month it’s been 10 months since some areas were closed off after the original 4th September earthquake in 2010.
Last week, after not being allowed access to our Tuam Street office since February, we were finally given the go ahead to retrieve essential equipment from the office. As we were escorted in by CERA (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority) staff, I took this video out of the car window.
So far I’ve only really seen photos of damaged buildings in the city centre and no videos. The photos I’ve seen only tell so much of the story. They each show a single location.
Hopefully the video above goes some way towards providing a bigger picture of how much damage there is in the city centre. After we collected our gear and headed out, I was pretty shell-shocked. There’s so little left that’s recognisable. It’s quite hard to get your bearings as many of the landmark buildings are no more.
For some reason, it’s almost more shocking to where a building used to be rather than the damaged building itself. Driving past the site of the CTV building was an eerie feeling. It was very strange to be driving along Cashel Street and look left all the way to Latimer Square.
Photos of the Earthquake Damage
Previously, I’ve taken a lot of photos myself and posted them in the Christchurch Earthquake set on Flickr. You can see those photos on the New Zealand Photos page, plus a few examples below.
This was my first impression of the city centre after the 22nd February 2011 aftershock. The clouds are made up of dust from buildings that have just collapsed. Cars have swerved across the road and people are gathering at piles of rubble.
I took this photo after the 4th September 2010 earthquake. It shows a damaged building on Manchester Street and then looks down into Sol Square. You can see how close you can get to the damaged buildings and imagine what it would be like to be close to this building at the time of the 22nd February 2011 aftershock.
Two members of our office carrying gear through the cordon. This was taken shortly after the 4th September earthquake. Police allowed us free access past the cordon and simply advised us to watch out for falling masonry. The access situation was much different after the February aftershock.
After the February quake, army soldiers man each entrance to the city’s red zone and allow access only to those with a pass, such as this truck driver. When we went in, there were huge trucks and diggers on every corner.
This photo was taken around May this year. It’s actually taken from outside the cordon on St Asaph Street, looking through the wire fence. The buildings are on Colombo Street and buildings like this further up can be seen in the video.
This photo was taken recently on Fitzgerald Avenue. Again, it’s amazing how close you can get to buildings that look like they are about to collapse. In the background, you can see that work has begun to remove the dome on top of the damaged Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrement.
Looking like a scene from a Terminator movie, this photo shows rubble from collapsed buildings on Moorhouse Avenue, next to Henry’s and Pak’n’Save.
Before the quake. This is one of my favourite photos. I took this from the top of the Cathedral Tower in early 2010. It’s near the time of the Busker’s Festival and shows a busker attracting a crowd in Cathedral Square.
I haven’t had access to the red zone before to take photos so most of mine are from around the outside of the cordon and the eastern suburbs. For photos inside the cordon, it’s highly recommended that you check out Ross Becker’s photos on Picasa.
Ross is a documentary photographer and was commissioned by the National Library to document the city’s rebuild. He has had access through the cordon to photograph the Christchurch CBD and his photos tell a sad story so far.
Note: The audio playing in the background for the first half of the video was audio that I recorded on 4th September and 22nd February. If you recognise the radio presenters, please let me know in a comment below and I’ll link to them from here and from the video descriptions.
The presenters did a stirling job dealing with callers at at time that was confusing for everyone.
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