Sigh. So there’s been another earthquake. Well, series of earthquakes. The first significant quake was a 5.4 or 5.5 that happened just after lunch and hit out to the east of Christchurch.
That quake had my office hiding under desks but for some reason I was stupid enough to stay at my desk, holding onto my monitor. It had a large progressive build up followed by some heavy vertical jolting. That was then followed by a strong rolling sensation that went on for a good 20 seconds or so.
As it died down, I jumped on Twitter straight away and reports were coming in and speculation started as to the size of the quake. Outside, other offices in larger buildings had evacuated and people were standing in the street.
Traffic began to build up but we chose to stay at work. Another colleague and I went to a local cafe to get some air and grab a coffee. My wife, working as a teacher at Hagley College, told me that the college had closed for the day so she was heading home to check on the dog. She soon reported that both house and dog were fine which relieved a lot of stress from both of us.
As we were trying to settle down, the second significant quake hit. This one was a 6.0 and straight away it was obvious that we needed to get under the desks. While under, my colleague exclaimed in pain as the office door swung around and caught him square in the face.
As it finished, we grabbed our stuff and had the presence of mind to carefully tip over all of the monitors in the office to stop them from falling over later. We locked up and joined the traffic heading out of the city.
On the road, reports came in that people near the city centre had seen clouds of dust rising from the red zone, indicating collapsed buildings. Flooding had started as yet more of the dreaded liquefaction began around the suburbs.
The first aftershock was, in hindsight, probably a fantastic warning for the second. The red zone was already being evacuated, builders had come down from their scaffolding and two people that had been trapped in a church on Latimer Square had safely been rescued.
Either way, getting home was a struggle but not as bad as the February quake. Traffic lights were out along Brougham but Ferry Road was a breeze, although many already damaged buildings along there had collapsed further and I did see one car on a side road with it’s nose down into a fresh hole.
Further towards New Brighton and a large flood slowed us down. I was in a position where I had to remain stationary in water that was slowly getting deeper as steam rose from my car bonnet. I stared longingly at the rear of a large Nissan Patrol complete with snorkel and raised suspension and, not for the first time, cursed myself for selling my Hilux a week before the February quake!
(that thing in the water is an armchair, presumably to mark a hole)
I arrived home to find that my wife had been running for the doorway when a large bookcase collapsed against the back of her thigh. She’s sporting a pretty impressive bruise right now. Despite that, she’d been doing a good job of tidying up as all the cupboards had spewed their contents onto the floor again.
Outside, the temporary wall we’d lifted out of the previous liquefaction had again fallen into the neighbour’s garden, which was slowly becoming more and more flooded with shitty silt. Guess it was a good thing Fletcher Construction hadn’t yet come round – some weird clause to do with the fact that the wall wasn’t connected to a house?
Either way I can confirm that the liquefaction in their garden was exactly one inch higher than the height of my boots.
I cleared that up and went from a stroll to check on the neighbourhood, meeting a lone cop who was doing the same thing.
Right now, water pressure is off but we still have power. Helicopters are circling overhead.
I’ve spoken with a few neighbours and the general feeling is a lot calmer than the previous quakes. While no aftershock is expected and we’ll never be comfortable with them, it was like we all knew exactly what to do and what to expect of the roads and infrastructure.
Telecom and Vodafone were Tweeting to everyone to encourage txt use only rather than calls as it would relieve the pressure on the networks, and txts seemed to be getting through much more smoothly perhaps as everyone already knew what was expected of them.
This young guy on a scooter on Breezes Road was a total champion. He intercepted a large number of cars that were heading towards a road that was closed (due to a closed bridge I think) and stopping at every one of them to tell them to turn around. After telling one car, the next car would stop next to him to ask the same question. The guy must have been stuck there for at least 10 minutes.
An early report on the radio suggested that 6 injuries had been reported and a street in Sumner was being evacuated due to rockfall (we’ve also had a fair bit of rain recently). As I’ve been writing this, we’ve had two decent aftershocks which have further turned our already anxious dog into a complete basket case. I wouldn’t mind if he didn’t weigh over 40kgs and have a jaw on him that snaps logs in two (he’s a German Shepherd). Should have bought a bloody goldfish instead.
Hopefully no one has been too seriously hurt and here’s hoping every takes these aftershocks in their stride as much as possible. Oh and thanks again, so much, to all the people on Twitter that asked after me and of others in Christchurch. Seriously, we appreciate your thoughts so much.
And my dog would just like to ask “WTF is going on!?”
We’ll all get through this together, Christchurch. Kia kaha.
Update: New Earthquake Photos
I’ve taken a few more photos early this morning on the way to the office. Incidentally, parking was pretty good this morning seeing as no one else had turned up! Surprisingly the roads were quite passable as well, despite a number of road and bridge closures. I guess as many had decided to stay at home.
I’d say the liquefaction damage to our street (Shortland Street) in Aranui, as well as Pages Road outside Cowles Stadium, is almost as bad as it was at the time of the February quake. Damn. We’d only just been told we could use our toilets properly again.
I’ll put a couple of hours in at the office this morning and then head back home to carry on with the clean up on Shortland Street and Aranui/Avonside in general.
Here’s to all the contractors and clean-up crew that, despite the massive shakes yesterday, last night and early this morning, are right back up on scaffolding and roofs around the city. The following photo shows some contractors working high on scaffolding at East Gate Mall.
Those guys deserve a DB.