Thursday, 16 September 2010

2 Weeks After the Quake in Christchurch

We welcome you to read both this and previous blogs about the Canterbury earthquake and how are well on the road to recovery!

CentrePoint on Colombo Motel is open for business.

In 2 days it will be 2 weeks since Christchurch shook violently at 4.35am on 4 September. A lot has changed in these 2 weeks and they are still changing – evident by the sporadic aftershocks as the ground settles into its new shape.

We experienced the disaster first hand, dealt with it and soon realised that while damage was widespread, it was not the end of Christchurch as a beautiful city. Unfortunately international media reported that our city was in ruins – images of the one building that caught on fire when electricity was turned back on went around the world mainly because PM John Key and the media were touring the area when it happened! The camera operator could have at least panned to either the left or right and shown undamaged buildings as well!

In reality, there was a travel advisory for the first week and a State of Emergency was in place, but we were certainly not going the way of Pompei!

Starting off on the back foot and then getting kicked while we were down meant we had to try hard to get our message out that Christchurch was still open for business – and tourism and that meant for a busy week. We got info onto our web site straight away guiding people to our blog which inturn led to Twitter and Facebook. We then blogged, Tweeted and Facebooked the week away, getting a balanced message out to those who wanted some info apart from the mainstream media. We cannot ascertain how much effect all our efforts had but we are pleased to be able to say that accommodation cancellations were limited and have now stopped – thanks for having faith in us and Christchurch! We have also been pleasantly surprised by the number of messages we have received from people commenting positively on what we have been doing.

So how is Christchurch now – physically it’s a lot better than last week but politically things are heating up. The adrenalin and focus on getting through the first week has now given way to some stark realities as communities and individuals try to work out how to get back to normal and come to the realisation of just how long it may take. We also have a Mayoral and City Council election coming up so there is many a matrix operating there! For Christchurch residents in some parts of the city reconstruction is going to be a long term reality.

As for tourism, Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism said last week that 98% of our areas tourism activities / attractions etc. were operating normally. Not really sure what makes up the 2% that aren’t but clearly some of the Arts Centre is contributing. While largely visually intact, parts will need intensive TLC over the next year or so to return it to its former glory. Probably one of the hardest hit sectors has been the restaurant industry. Many restaurants, including close by South of The Border, Himalayas and Café Valentino remain closed. See here for a full and up to date list of what is happening to your favourite eating places. But the overwhelming message is that Christchurch is still a great place to visit and it is open for business.

The State of Emergency has been lifted as of 12 noon, not that it will make any real difference to our lives, mainly an administrative issue. But still, it is probably easier to make a decision to visit a city if it does not have such a State of Emergency!

Things are looking up in Christchurch. Victoria Street, which lost a lot of its older buildings, reopened yesterday and means traffic will now flow smoother. Other parts of the central city are being tidied up and there are now few areas off limits. In reality, there are large parts of the city where it is difficult to tell there has been such an earthquake.

Christchurch is very much alive! We say to everyone far and wide, come and visit Christchurch, people are the life blood of a city and you need to be a part of it!



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