Saturday, 4 September 2010

Earthquake in Christchurch

Whatta day!! As a wrap up to the last 19.5 hours or so, this is what we are sending out to past guests and others who have been contacting us

To be honest, we never thought this would happen in Christchurch. We lived somewhat in fear of a big one in Japan for 19 years and after being back here for 3 years we were greeted by a big one at 4.35am this morning.

To all those who have contacted us today and sent their kind thoughts, thank you.

Thankfully we are all safe, although tired after an early start and a somewhat stressful day.

I have waited until now to reply because it has been an unsettled day. Excuse me for sending a standard letter to everyone.

Awakened by the quake, I got out of bed and had time to check the 2 kids and tell them to hold on all while the quake was continuing. It was a very long shake. After the first shake we dressed, pulled on solid shoes and headed outside to make sure the guests were ok. Everyone was shaken but thankfully safe. We did not lose electricity, unlike much of the central city. The immediate area around our motel did not sustain serious damage from what we could see in the darkness and so we felt strangely safe although the aftershocks were a surprising reminder of the reality. These have been continuing throughout the day.

Once dawn arrived, I headed off with one of our sons into the central city area to see what had happened. What we saw was what you have seen through the media today. Truly shocking, beautiful parts of Christchurch are ruined and we have lost a lot of our heritage. Although, as is always the case, the damage was limited to older buildings. To make it more realistic to those who have stayed with us, the Mexican restaurant, South of the Border, the Indian Restaurant Himalayas and the Italian Restaurant Café Valentino have all sustained serious damage and will probably have to be demolished. The second story brick wall of the small Chinese restaurant collapsed and totally destroyed the shop next to it.

Next time you visit Christchurch, you will notice some dramatic changes in the cityscape.

Thankfully, the motel did not sustain any visible structural damage, a few items toppled and drawers opened but there is no serious damage. Later in the morning we did discover that the neighbouring house’s chimney had fallen over the fence and crashed into the guttering and wall of the motel residence. Marks on the wall indicated a brick had missed the lounge window by about 10cm. We won’t be confirming the extent of the damage till the aftershocks have well finished but the damage appears to be minimal.

We lost water supply for approximately 5 hours and were please to see it return around lunchtime.

We have had incoming guests cancel their reservations today but we have also had new guests who could not leave Christchurch, a common happening in times when people cannot move around. We have also had people arrive who want to get away from the inner city high rise hotels – saying it was very frightening on the upper floors.

That no-one was killed in Christchurch was a true blessing and it is a cruel oxymoron that we feel our hearts going out to the families of the 9 killed in a skydiving plane crash on the West Coast today.

Christchurch has seen a lot today, heritage buildings damaged in the city centre but also serious quake damage on the eastern side of the city. Liquefaction has dumped trailor size loads of sand etc. in gardens, power poles are 3/4 the height they used to be and one friend of a friend had water and sand pushing up through their bedroom floorboards during the quake. 2 billion is the estimated cleanup cost but that is bound to grow over the next few days.

Central Christchurch (from Kilmore St.) is closed tonight and a curfew is in place from 7pm to 7am. We hope that the city will sleep quietly tonite. Tomorrow we are faced with a forecast of gale force nor’west winds so the city will be on edge again.

Once again, thank you for your concern and kind thoughts.

Jeff, Naomi & family

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