Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Earthquake in Christchurch - Day 5

I’ve just been for a bike ride around the central area and the reality in Christchurch today is that most of the CBD is OPEN for the first time including Cathedral Square, Colombo St. and some of the City Mall.....

Here is the message we have been sending out for Day 5.

Thankfully our family is safe, and the Motel did not sustain any damage.

CentrePoint on Colombo Motel is fully operational.

We believe that by telling it how it is, everyone will be happier about keeping your plans in place to visit Christchurch. To be truthful, not the best place to visit right now but we look forward to letting everyone know how our recovery progresses. Read our daily blog (see below) postings to see how the daily situation is changing.

Stay in touch, your support is greatly appreciated!

Many people who have stayed with us before or booked to stay at CentrePoint on Colombo Motel in the coming weeks and months have emailed us with kind messages of support and encouragement and we thank you all for your kind thoughts.

The Christchurch and Canterbury region was rocked by a strong Earthquake at 4.35am on 4 September. We are now becoming accustomed to our new reality and finding ways to cope with the aftershocks that are unevenly spread throughout the day.

Overnight from day 3 to 4 we were rock ‘n rolled by a number of large aftershocks and once again at around 8am of day 5 we were visited by yet another large aftershock. These are unsettling to most Cantabrians but they are an ironic reminder of our 19 years in Japan. We rock ‘n rolled there a lot!

We are now into day 5 and it is overcast and cooler than yesterday.

The State of Emergency was due to be lifted at 12noon today but after this mornings aftershocks, it has been extended by one week to 12 noon on 15 Sep. It may be reviewed and shortened if everything goes well. A State of Emergency allows the City Council extended powers to block off streets and evacuate people when necessary rather than indicate a terribly desperate situation. One reason for this extension is that all the buildings that had been checked in the last 4 days now have to be rechecked after today’s aftershock.

I’ve just been for a bike ride around the central area and the reality in Christchurch today is that most of the CBD is OPEN for the first time including Cathedral Square, Colombo St. and some of the City Mall. The City Mall is closed close to the corner of High & Cashel Sts. Due to problems with the Westpac building. The other main area that is cordoned off is the old warehouse area containing the popular SOL Square and Lichfield Lanes. City bus services are operating although some routes have changed a little due to the blocked off roads. Taxi and shuttle services are operating normally. The Art Gallery is the Civil Defense HQ. Most supermarkets and malls are back to normal and the more and more retail shops in the central city area are opening with each passing day. Some schools may open this week but others will stay closed till Monday next week. Public buildings are still pretty much closed.

Reading the previous paragraph, you could be excused for thinking it does not look good and it would be a normal reaction to say “I’m not going to Christchurch.” However, please remember that it is only day 5 and the situation will improve with time. Us Cantabrians are a resilient lot and bounce back pretty good!

We do look forward to welcoming you to Christchurch as per your original plans. By the time you get here the main parts of the city should be back to normal.

So how is Christchurch? The CBD is getting back to normal, some shops and restaurants are open. Close to the Motel, the older buildings have been seriously damaged and some of our favorite restaurants within 2 minutes walk will unfortunately not be reopening for some time. Apart from that, roads are undamaged and there are very few signs of the disaster we experienced. The eastern side of the city, closer to the coast and mainly residential did not fare as well. This is where some of the most serious damage occurred, often caused by liquefaction. Many roads, power poles, houses, lawns and footpaths are in need of a lot of repair. Initial estimates are that 100,000 houses have been damaged in the quake and this statement is one way of summing up the situation. Christchurch is not in ruins, rather the damage is evenly spread out over almost the entire city and probably no-one is unaffected. Even for us, the residential part of the motel (where we live) received cosmetic damage when a neighbouring chimney fell across the boundary.

We look forward to providing more information to you over the coming days as Christchurch returns to normal by way of Twitter and our motel blog page at and we welcome you to follow the Garden City’s progress.

Jeff and Naomi Peters

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