The Eastern Suburbs

The Eastern Suburbs

There’s recently been a shift in focus in the media with regards to news of the Christchurch earthquake.

Perhaps now that the authorities have said that the city centre operation has sadly transitioned from one of rescue to one of recovery, people are starting to look to residential areas of Christchurch that are still badly affected.

Army and Police Guards outside Sydenham Church

Roads closed in Avonside

Army in a playpark in north-east Christchurch

Damage to the eastern suburbs of Christchurch has been fairly extensive. While the sheer level of destruction to buildings in these areas isn’t as obvious as that of buildings in the city centre, damage to the roads has been quite impressive. There actually are also many buildings that have been all but destroyed by the earthquake, it’s just that they’re often surrounded by houses that don’t look as bad so it’s hard to notice them.

Eastern suburbs still badly affected by the earthquake with heavily disrupted infrastructure include:

  • Dallington
  • Avonside
  • Aranui
  • Bexley
  • Bromley
  • New Brighton
  • Redcliffs
  • Sumner

As a resident of Aranui, the disruption to the area’s infrastructure is all too apparent. 10 days after the earthquake and we are still without power to large sections o Shortland Street. 100 metres down the road and people have power but no water. Maybe if I let them use my toilet they’ll let me hook-up the world’s longest extension cable to their power supply?

Breezes Road and Anzac Drive have recently opened but are now home to a brand new range of hills thanks to mountains of silt that have been collected by the hard working construction guys that have done a sterling job on the road there.

Silt collected in the eastern suburbs

A few authority representatives have passed through. We had EQC officials drop by and take notes yesterday. About 5 days ago, police officers came round to drop off information flyers about the state of the city and to tell us that the army would be posted around our streets to stop looters (they haven’t turned up yet but I’m sure they have better things to do).

As the adrenaline from the earthquake wears off and people spend more dark nights without power or water, thoughts are turning away from panic and worry to frustration and anger. Portaloos have turned up sporadically but are still too sparse for many. Particularly the disabled and elderly.

Driving anywhere is difficult and damage to vehicles is likely. Huge dips in the road appear amongst drain covers that are raised over a foot in the air. Pools of water still hide unknown dangers and piles of silt have dried out to cause breathing difficulties on windy days. We’ve also heard that the dust may contain hazardous metals such as Zinc.

Other natural features and waterways have also become hazards in the form of trees that may fall near riverbanks and previously flowing rivers that are now blocked and have become stagnant.

Avon River Damage in Avonside

While many houses themselves may look find from the outside, displaced tiles and cracks in walls have allowed water into ceiling spaces and wall panels causing cracking, leaks and dampness.

Damaged Roof Tiles on Kerrs Road, Avonside

Interior House Damage

Despite all of this, my own spirits remain high. I’m not going hungry, relatives nearby provide me with power to charge my cell phone and laptop when needed plus a hot shower from time to time. I have reserves of clean water and plenty of gas canisters for my camping stove. I am also one of the lucky ones that can say I still have employment in these difficult times.

Damaged Roof with Tarps

While many are saying the authorities have forgotten about the eastern suburbs completely, the opposite is actually true for my relative’s place. Their roof was extensively damaged in the first earthquake and they have been waiting for five months for any kind of positive action to be taken. With the February aftershock, help arrived within the week. New tarps are in place and they have been told to expect a new roof within the month.

It’s clear that many of the processes that were in place for the September earthquake have been written off for the February earthquake and the authorities really do recognise the need to fast-track repairs and assistance where possible.

Stay strong Christchurch. It can’t rain all the time.

Update:

A cousin of mine was reading this post and thought that I had photo-shopped the above ‘mountain of silt’ photograph. To be fair, it’s quite hard to tell how large that pile is because there’s no point of reference.

In the following photo, you can see that same pile of silt from a bit further along Breezes Road towards New Brighton.

Silt Piles on Breezes Road, Bexley, Christchurch

In this photo you can see a large digger in front of the pile of silt. The peak of the pile is about three times as high as the digger.