cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
My bank records for Monday 21st February 2011 show that I ate lunch at Vivace Café, a café with just the right balance of relaxed and hipster, good magazines, and one of only two I’d found in the city who served lapsang souchong tea. I got dinner from Chen’s Kitchen, my local Chinese place with a bunch of extremely young staff who would stop playing cards when I came in, who gave me the log-on to their private wireless, and who did an amazing hot and sour potato dish. I don’t have any transactions for the morning of the 22nd, but I walked to work, through town, and it’s very likely that I bought myself an apple Danish from the Copenhagen Bakery on the way.

All of those places were gone by the time I got home that afternoon.

My sole purchase recorded for the 22nd of February is $130 at a petrol station. I was lucky to get there – the road I was trying to get out of the city on was flooded, with silted up water over the tops of the tyres and new cracks and potholes hidden underneath, and I was in a loaner car with the petrol light on already. I pulled out of the queue of cars and drove back towards my house, only to be stopped by the army. The soldier three blocks from my house wouldn’t let me go back there, but he did check his radio and tell me there was a petrol station open on Blenheim Road. When I got there the queue wasn’t as bad as I’d feared – I think it took me about half an hour to get through – but most of the store was cleaned out. I bought petrol, a bottle of Powerade, and a couple of marshmallow Easter eggs. My dog and I finally made it to my friend’s place about an hour later.

The Copenhagen Bakery has opened again, way out of town. The man who owned the Vivace Café is keen to develop bits of the CBD again, but is locked in arguments with the council. I have had no luck in finding anything out about the staff of Chen’s Kitchen.

I left, last June. My house is still standing but still unsellable, on severely damaged land, and EQC have not yet made a decision about whether it is worth fixing or should be demolished (my house is one of 14 in a complex). It’s rented, but the rent doesn’t quite cover the mortgage. On balance, I’d rather it wasn’t demolished – I liked living there – but I just want a decision.

Photos from my walk home.
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
One year ago today was the Christchurch earthquake, which killed 185 people and left most of the central city in ruins, as well as significant parts of a number of suburbs. So, one year ago this morning I walked to work through the city, on a route I have not been able to take since, and one year ago this afternoon I walked back home again, past buildings with chunks falling off them, people huddled in parks, silt and water everywhere, and smoke rising from the remains of the CTV building a few blocks from my house.

I (and my dog) moved back into my house in December. It's damaged, if liveable, and I have yet (since September 2010, and the 7.1 quake) to have any official EQC inspections, although there was an insurance company-ordered inspection of the complex as a whole. This was, however, before the December 23rd aftershocks, which caused quite a bit more damage in my area, and broke my hot water cylinder again. There is also no decision about the land. The government has declared some areas red zone - the land is not worth the cost of fixing - and agreed to pay the owners the rateable value of the property. Green zone is land worth salvaging (orange and white are in limbo), but there are three subcategories of green, and my house is on the worst, green-blue or T3. The land will need extensive repairs before the houses can be repaired, but it will not be written off; what we may end up with is patched-up houses on unstable land, and no way to sell up (except to very naive buyers) or move on.

I went to a couple of the smaller memorial services today - the 2 minutes' silence at the Peace Bell in Hagley Park, and this evening an even smaller neighbourhood group, by the empty site that used to be a local church. Someone put paperbag lanterns out along the ground, marking out the route of one of the old streams that used to be here (these old streams are why the land was so badly affected by the quakes, with sand and liquifaction where we thought things were solid) and, behind the wire fence around the church site, a lantern for each of the people killed in this area, with their initials on the bag.

I'm not going to stay in Christchurch. I've accepted a job in Auckland to start in June, and even though I have no idea what will happen with my house here (or how to find accommodation there), I will still leave. I will miss Christchurch, and in particular my friends here; but I miss the city already, because I'm living in it and it's gone.

(the curious can read my earlier earthquake entries here; I haven't been organised enough to tag them on lj yet.)


Jul. 23rd, 2011 10:27 pm
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
I heard on Thursday that all of us in my town house complex had access to our houses again, so I biked that way after work and ended up going in, as there were a) others there and b) I am still carrying a maglite torch in my work bag (it was dark by the time I got there). At least three of the 14 houses in the complex have been broken into, although mine is fortunately not one of them. More books, bookcases and manga have come down in the June aftershocks, and the whole top floor feels uneven (it's carpeted, but if I could drop a bag of marbles on it I expect they would all bounce in very odd directions - you can feel hills and dips just by walking over it). However, given that my immediate neighbours have had a major water tank leak, with the ceiling sagging so much that it's split, and all the soft furnishings soaked and beginning to mildew, I'm fortunate again that it's not worse.

The land has not been inspected, there's no power or sewerage, and no-one can live there until these things are sorted out (with no timeline), but at least I can start going through stuff.

Non-earthquake related gaming update. )

Deja vu

Jun. 14th, 2011 10:27 pm
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
I spent an hour on the phone getting my broadband back, and then the power went out. It's back, now, but I don't entirely trust it and am going to go to sleep rather than boot up my long-suffering computer again.

So. Two large aftershocks yesterday, a 5.7 and a 6.3, and then another 80 or so aftershocks since (I think 78 in the first 24 hours). More damage, more building closures and collapses, more injuries and one death. I have more breakages (all my bread and butter plates, most of my remaining glassware, but only one jar of artichokes because I learnt from experience and stuck all my food in glass containers on the lowest shelf of the kitchen) and leaks in the bathroom, but at least the latter is now my landlord's problem and there is a plumber coming tomorrow. Boiling water again.

The church near my house (the one I am not living in) is a lot more damaged, and part of it is resting on one of the other houses in my complex. I don't know what damage there is inside, as everything is still red-stickered. It's tiring, and it's frustrating.

Thanks to all of you for your comments and well-wishes. I do hope to have some more cheerful (or at least less quakeful) updates soon.
cyphomandra: fluffy snowy mountains (painting) (snowcone)
When I have anxiety dreams, they tend to have similar tropes without being the exact same dream: I am trying to make it to some form of transportation (usually a plane) before a strict deadline and failing; I have just discovered I am enrolled in a class I haven't attended all year, and the final exam is that afternoon; I am wandering around in public in an insufficient quantity of clothes, or looking for a toilet (actually, last night, I was attempting to tactfully critique an imaginary right-wing politician's preparation of hot-and-sour soup, but that's not really a recurring theme). Anyway, the first two variants of these tend to involve a lot of packing, or sorting through things, all the while knowing (in the dream) that the point of no return is approaching.

So. Yesterday, I had fifty minutes in my house, with a safety rep, to get out what I could. I think the house won't be destroyed, and I think even if it is we should get access again, but I don't know any of these things for sure. And it all felt very familiar, right down to the way it all started off seeming perfectly achievable, and suddenly I had three minutes left. Fortunately, I did not then discover I was only wearing a T-shirt.

There were the usual bureaucratic accompaniments; we had to make lists of what we wanted to get out (although no-one asked to inspect these), I had to get a photo pass that could only be issued at 8 am (although, due to work, I had asked for the house access slot at 1.30 - two units in the complex were allowed access each hour), I could only have one person with me (and due to a communication mix-up, he couldn't actually come into the house, and had to stand outside the door taping boxes together and stacking the trailer), hard hats and high-vis vests, and the slightly more sensible safety briefings. The safety person told me to work top-to-bottom in the house (it's on three stories), but after I sent down a box full of games and paperwork, an additional safety person showed up and said, "Vitals *first*" in an emphatic fashion, and I did a five minute bit in each room to get the list things before heading back around.

I got everything on my list, including my mattress (the one in the rental is doing horrible things to my back), although there was a bit of an argument with the additional safety person again when getting it out meant blocking the stairs briefly. I took all the obvious expensive portable items - one of the other units got burgled that morning - and although there's some jewellery left in there, it's not like I could find it. Doing the list items took me about thirty minutes, and then in what was left I had "books and manga" written down; I grabbed some specific titles that I knew I wanted, but with over 2000 books in the house, it's really hard to even start to tackle them, or know what to prioritise. It was easier with the manga, but even then I flailed a bit - hard to replace? fun to read? haven't read yet?

I filled two cars and we stuck the mattress on the trailer; I remembered the TV remote just before the deadline (I already had the TV) and then had to go hunting around the sofas for it. The safety person carried stuff down for me, which was great. One of the people in the slot before me had tried to empty her entire house, and run out of time despite having about five people taking things away. I haven't done a lot of unpacking yet, as just shifting things over and wrestling the mattress into place took most of my energy (I love my mattress, but it is not the most wieldy thing ever. On the other hand, two nights on it has almost completely undone all of last week's back pain).

Anyway. It's three months since the earthquake. I have a ridiculous number of EQC claims in (from the two big quakes, and the Boxing Day aftershock), and no inspections. I've had to move yet again, despite thinking that buying a house would finally put an end to my six year streak of moving at least once a year, and although I can still walk to work there is no longer a CBD for me to walk through. I am generally doing okay, anxiety dreams and real-life mimics aside, but the limbo parts of this are irritating at best.

And ongoing

Apr. 8th, 2011 10:46 pm
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
I have a whole bunch of potential entries that are much more contemplative (and possibly even more consistent in emotional tone), but here you go.

1) It's just over 6 weeks since the February 22nd earthquake, in which 182 people died. My house is still red-stickered and inside the cordon, and I'm now in rental accommodation, which means I finally have my dog back with me. I'm three blocks away from my house. I can almost see it past the army base that's now on the corner, when I walk past.

2) Today marked the lifting of the "boil all water" notice that's been in place since the quake. I have had two glasses of water from the tap so far and am about to go and recklessly brush my teeth without using bottled water.

3) I discovered today that Hector (the dog) is notorious at his day-care (yes, yes, but I work five days a week and it's important for socialisation, even if they did stick a Santa hat on him at Xmas and take a photo) for hoarding all the balls and not letting any of the other dogs play with them. Possibly I am supposed to feel more guilty about this and less amused (I am also slightly baffled - how can he possibly get them all? Maybe I should donate 20 tennis balls to the day-care just to complicate things).
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
When I posted about the disjunction between the eastern and western suburbs yesterday [personal profile] china_shop helpfully left me this link, which is all too accurate about the different cities Chch currently has in earthquake recovery. This afternoon I picked up various water containers, foodstuffs, batteries, sanitary products etc from the supermarket near me (a western suburb) and drove over to drop them all off at Aranui Primary in the east, which was a short but educational trip. Talking about this more will just make me bitter and grumpy, although I suppose I do now want to read more about various revolutions :)

Better news - I may, possibly, be able to get brief access to my house in the next few days, as they start to relax the cordon. I have lists (and lots of volunteer helpers if they're also allowed!).


Mar. 2nd, 2011 07:26 pm
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
I stared glumly at my house on Google Street View this morning, which has to be a completely unhelpful use of technology. Anyway. The very vague, timeline-uncertain plan, is to get independent structural engineering assessment of my complex (organised by our body corp insurance), and see a) whether they think it's salvageable b) whether they can downgrade the red stickers and allow access. This does depend on what happens with other much more unstable buildings in the immediate vicinity.

I have had very touching offers/gifts of books from various people (thanks so much!!) and have made lists of things, and really, now I just need to wait. Well. And do laundry.

I am also considering my default dw icon. On the one hand, I like it, but on the other hand it's suddenly become a bit too appropriate (for those who read me on lj,it's a fractured Colin McCahon landscape, 6 Days in Nelson and Canterbury). Any strong opinions, let me know.

And on appropriateness (sorry, this is all a bit disjointed) - there's a real split in the city at the moment. I'm staying in an eastern suburb, where there's a tiny bit of liquefaction in the garden, but everything's otherwise untouched and the roads are basically fine. Yesterday I drove over to [personal profile] zeborah's house, in the inner west, and the roads were atrocious, with cracks and humps and silt (although they're already fixing some of them), and then out to [profile] m0th95, where it was better going out, but coming out I missed the turn I wanted, and we ended up in a chunk of Chch with no power, no street lighting, sinkholes, active flooding, cars dragged to the side of the road but still covered in silt...

I work in between both areas, on the edge of the city, and yesterday I went to the two minutes' silence on the steps of the art gallery. This is inside the cordon, but when we asked the army said they didn't have any orders, and let us through; most of the other people there were rescue workers. It was sad, desperately, but I read a newspaper write-up today that was all about "nothing disturbed the silence apart from two birds tweeting," and that's hopelessly inaccurate; the first cell phone rang after about twenty seconds. And then another, and another; I actually felt more touched than annoyed, because after all they were calls between people, connections, but it did distract the mind somewhat. And when the service finished the crowd melted away to leave me standing right at the front, which meant I ended up getting handshakes (from all three) and hugs (from the latter two) from the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Dean of the Cathedral, which was unexpected.
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
No access to my house for the foreseeable future - it's possible the concern is due to a neighbouring building that's unstable, but there's been a lot of liquefaction in the area and, according to the phone call I had tonight, the structure of my complex may also be affected. I am not really dealing with this at the moment. Basically, I want my computer, but it's also acting as a surrogate for all my books and manga, the potential loss of which I can't really begin to consider just yet.

But. In the next room, an NHK reporter is interviewing a former King's Education student, also staying here (I'm with relatives) who was out at lunch when the building collapsed on her friends and teachers. In contrast, losing a house and contents seems minor. I swing between these extremes depending on who I'm talking to or what I'm reading, or anything one of thousands of other things. Really all I can do at the moment is wait. And work - spent most of today on the phone, and it'll be the same again tomorrow; surprisingly successful at finding people, and they are all mostly okay.

Thanks for all your comments. I do want to reply, but it will probably be a few more days.
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
Just heard that my whole town house complex has been red-stickered. This means no access. I have a small suitcase with about three changes of clothes, two books and assorted phone chargers, and no idea when - if - I'll be allowed back home once I get back tomorrow.
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
I haven't put in details of what the quake was like for me yet, and although I'm a bit iffy about it I can always lock them later. Basically, I'd just walked into a large glassed-in foyer, intending to go up to the mezzanine, and then the quake hit, and three of us just hung on to the bottom stair rail and listened to glass breaking (fortunately, none of it near us). I texted my sister straight away, and then tried for Twitter, but everything was going down. Told juniors to go home, made sure work was safe once we were allowed back in, tried again and again to get phone messages through or access the internet. I heard the Cathedral was down and assumed it was a rumour. In hindsight we could have put on the radio, but none of us were thinking all that straight.

About an hour after the quake I started walking home. Initially there was just minor damage, and then I saw my first collapsed building - on Durham Street - and it all started to sink in. I had to divert to get home, and there was silt and water everywhere - fortunately I'd picked that day to wear boots. Got home, hugged my neighbours, got someone to kick in my jammed gate, tidied (the mess was worse than the September quake, with a lot more breakages, but still better than I'd feared), ate large quantities of melting ice-cream, listened to the radio, packed an emergency bag and then set out to pick up the dog by foot. Usually I drive the 2.5k in about 5 minutes, depending on lights, but it took me almost an hour of walking and back-tracking, and talking to others. The dog was thrilled to see me (and pretty blase about the earthquake - with both this and the other one, he's been with other dogs), and even more excited at getting to walk a long way with lots of mud and lots of people standing out on the street, particularly those ones with barbecues.

Walked back, listened to the radio announce a cordon around the central city, tidied some more and packed ineffectively, then managed to make contact with a friend who could offer me a place to stay. Pulled all the boxes off the car, stuck the dog in the back and started driving to their place. This a complete mess. The roads were heavily flooded, with sinkholes and cracks, and cars stuck on the sides; lots of traffic, and all of it slow. The loaner car I was driving had only come with a quarter tank of petrol, and I'd already had it a couple of days; the petrol light came on before I'd made it 5k. I headed back, through more flooded streets, and then got stopped by the army - they wouldn't let me back home, but directed me to the one open petrol station they knew of, on Blenheim Road. I got there before running out of petrol, joined the queue and filled the tank. I also bought two Easter eggs and some powerade - water, milk, bread etc had all sold out long ago. Started driving again, and from this direction the roads were much better, practically normal until I was about 2k away from my destination. Drove cautiously around more sinkholes and cracks, cut my finger on the gate of my friend's, got the dog out.

All this through constant aftershocks. You could hear them, all Tuesday night, growling in the distance just before the shake.

I took photos on my walks that afternoon. These are some of them here, if the link works - haven't used Flicker before. I suspect they're also going to be out of order.


Feb. 24th, 2011 08:07 pm
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
I'm in Sydney.

I flew out this morning. I had flights booked for a briefing meeting from weeks ago, but wasn't sure whether to go or not, and even now that I'm here I feel bad for leaving. I didn't know until yesterday afternoon that the airport would be open for international flights, and I spent yesterday sorting out so many other things that I wasn't really sure I'd go until I got here, especially with all the ongoing aftershocks.

Yesterday I helped sort out a friend's pharmacy, took my dog to his breeders/boarders (well out of the city, with power and water - they filled up 2 huge bottles and 3 thermoses for me to take back, and have said they're happy to look after him until I'm sorted - he was filthy from all the silt, but pretty cheerful), checked out work, talked my way back past the cordon to check on the house, drove over more appalling roads and past so many wrecked buildings. Today I shopped for new baby presents for friends, took a shower and used flush toilets. And twitched everytime a bus went past, just in case it was an aftershock.

I still feel unbelievably lucky, and guilty for not being there. I go back Sunday, and have offers of places to stay if (as I expect) the central city is still locked down. I have deeply ambivalent feelings about Christchurch from before this, but I like the CBD, I live there and walk through it everyday, and this is just awful. So many places I walk past are now effectively tombs - the Trocadero Bakery, the PGG Building, the Cathedral...

Thanks very much for all the well wishes and hugs. They do help. I'm not really up to responding to everyone at the moment, and my internet access is patchy (and expensive if I use the iPhone!) but it is good to know you're all thinking of me. I hope everyone back in Chch, or who has also left - as many others have - is doing okay.
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
Quick update. I'm staying with relatives who have power and water, which puts them into a lucky 20% minority. My house lacks both, and is also in the cordon area, so I can't stay there. It's all pretty horrible and we're still having aftershocks at least every hour, but I'm definitely one of the lucky ones. The PGG building, which collapsed and where they're still trying to get people out, is only two blocks from where I live (the building I was in for the quake is closed, but at least it's standing).

I don't know what's happened to my car - it's at a panel beater's in the cordon, and I have a loaner - but again, this is minor (and I'm thrashing the loaner, as there's a lot of flooding and road damage, and it takes ages to get anywhere). I think everyone I know well is okay, but I feel as if I'm just waiting to be proven wrong.
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
6.3 quake hit today just before 1pm, lots of buildings down, fires and >60 dead. Am okay, dog okay, all friends and family as far as I know. House has more cracks and quite a bit is broken, plus having to evacuate shortly as closing down central city. Am almost out of phone charge but hopefully power back tonight, all the best to others in Chch.


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