Monday, 28 February 2011

Christchurch Earthquake Day5

When it gets to this stage – day 5 - rather extreme exhaustion starts to creep in.  Usually I would have given up long ago but the adrenalin, the need to get things done and the feeling that if we do slow down we will start to really think about what has happened.  

Hot water! Yes! We are now, in terms of basic services, back to what we were before the ground shook.  I had recieved an indication from our gas supplier that we would maybe get the gas back on Monday and so it was a pleasant surprise to see a repairman in the office and a truck full of gas tanks in the driveway!  I kissed the truck and I like it! It was truly wonderful to see!  We had been using piped gas but the pipes are useless now and so we needed to change to bottled gas.  The changeover was done in just over an hour!  We now have hot water and all guests, and ourselves can have a shower!

But then our phone system went south on us – meaning it broke.  We were unable to receive any emails!  A call to the supplier resulted in a visit by the boss.  He took an hour to hook up a temporary system.  He said the insides had been damaged by the shaking! Another quake victim.

We have also spent a long time sorting out emails and sending emails to many people.
Naomi and I are constantly overwhelmed by the wonderful messages of support we receive throughout the day from so many people – many of them ex guests.  We like to be able to reply to everyone of them although some of the replies are very short (sorry!)
We’d like to take this chance to ask people who still have not cancelled their visit to Christchurch in the near future to hurry up and do so.  Christchurch is just not ready to accommodate tourists at this stage.  After the September quake, we tried to get everyone to still come to Christchurch but this time we want everyone to stay away.  That is the best way to help us at the moment.  But please do not leave NZ, please still come and see the other wonderful areas in the South Island!  Eventually we will be ready to have you all to stay again, but this is just not the time.  Here’s an article I found about it,

On the not good side of news, what we call the Munster’s house, the beautiful building across the road is on strange angles, has a red sticker on it and has probably reached the end of its life.  But it will live on forever in the photos that so many visitors to Christchurch have taken all over the world!

This after noon I headed out to the supermarket – but limited market was a better word.  Not much on the shelves!  On the way there I passed the cordon, manned by  NZ Police, NZ Army and Australia Police!  Yesterday there was a Singapore Army Soldier on cordon duty as well.  It is truly humbling to see these people from overseas helping us out.  Although it is a bit strange to see the different uniforms!  By the way, the Australian police have been invested with the same powers as NZ police – now that’s how to get things done!

And that about wraps up day 5 – a landmark day for us as the motel returns to full service level!

This photo was taken about 11.30pm on 27 Feb.  The white glow in the middle is the stump of the Cathedral Spire, lit up as the rescue continues.

As for me, I’m going to have a shower before going to bed!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Christhcurhc Earthquake Day 4 - The recovery Continues

If you have been following our homepage you will notice that I omitted 1 point from yesterday’s blog – we have water!  The first drips appeared Thursday night only to dry up again Friday morning.  By Friday afternoon ½ the rooms had water and by late last night all had at least a trickle.  An important step.

We now need the gas so we can have hot water but this may take some time due to our proximity to the centre of town.  The plan is to have hot water flowing on Monday.
Hopefully it’ll work!

I also omitted mentioning yesterday that we were visited by the Fire Department.  They were going door to door making sure everyone was ok.  On top of that, this morning we were visited by the City Council for our building inspection.  2 council employees and 2 structural engineers spent about 10 minutes here checking the building for safety.  We were awarded (??) a green “safe to use” certificate.  Stuck to the window with colour coordinated red tape, we are prevented by law from removing it.  So there it will stay.  So the good news is that our building is safe!

We were talking about it tonight but these 2 visits show how well organised the disaster response is.  By dividing the city into manageable areas, the council is able to quickly work out just what is happening.

In a matter of days, our motel has morphed from a popular tourist base close to Christchurch's heart to an emergency/recovery support centre.  This has changed the flow of what we have been doing completely.

Many people have been contacting us asking what they should be doing with their booking.  It’s a really tough call because the situation is so fluid.  It may change, it may not.  All we can recommend is that you wait a few days and see what is happening before you make your decision.  Being inside the cordon we are not the best place to be as you options will be severely limited

I’d like to write more but exhaustion has got me nodding off as I write this.  Must be away and get some sleep…more tomorrow.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Christchurch Earthquake Day3

It’s Friday and usually everyone would be at the pub, looking forward to a weekend of fun and leisure…..but not today.  We don’t even really know its Friday.  Time has become a blur.  There was Super15 Rugby tonite but we forgot about it – doesn’t feel like Friday.

First of all I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has sent us a message.  Yesterday I said I would read them but, to be honest, I have not.  I will try again tomorrow.  I did read a few today and they were truly uplifting but they also brought me close to tears.  Being busy, cleaning up the mess, taking care of guests and flushing toilets is great because it takes your mind of the reality and makes it easier to get through the day.  I’m glad I don’t have time to think.

We’d also like to say thanks to those who have cancelled with plenty of advanced notice.  This allows us to plan and is appreciated.  To be honest there are some who do not cancel, do not turn up and these people, maybe without realising it, take a lot of our time that we could spend on more productive jobs.

So, what’s today been like?  It’s been a day of aftershocks, the shallowest at only a depth of 1km which is closer than the distance to our local Fish ‘n Chip shop.
These shakes are taking an increasing toll on the city, decimating any structures the first quake spared….and it adds to the stress.

Today we finished the major tidy up of the residence, it’s roughly back to how it was.  Jeff’s sister and brother in law stayed the night and were a great help in getting life back to normal.  We cannot thank them enough.  We cannot thank them enough. We cannot thank them enough.  They have now gone home to Southland but they have proven the value of having someone around who did not experience the disaster.  Their speed and clarity of mind were a real bonus and really helped us getting back on our feet.

Today I went for a quick walk to Peterborough St.  It’s only 90 seconds walk away but today I felt I was in another world. The block between Peterborough St. and Kilmore St. is severely damaged and probably about 80% of the buildings will be demolished.  Many guests ask us about the old house across the road, we call it the Munster’s House cos it is just so cool.  But we think its time has come, it has a slant on it which is unnatural….another historical treasure gone.

We have a new member in our family.  Yesterday we were visited by a German short stay person whose accommodation had been quaked out.  Her wallet, passport etc are still at her English school and so she has nothing but a pack full of clothes.  She didn’t have anywhere else to go, so we have taken her in.  She looked so scared yesterday that we felt we had to do something to help her.  We advised her to register at the Red Cross and she did.  But other than that she had nothing.  She was planning to stay with some guy she had met at the evacuation centre but when the deal seamed strange over the phone, we decided to invite her to homestay with us.  Yesterday we sent mr12 away and today we gained an older daughter! 

What will tomorrow bring?

Friday, 25 February 2011

Christchurch Earthquake Day2

In the surreal life that we now live, we find we have lost track of time.  We have to remind ourselves that it is Thursday night.  The earthquake was at 12.50 pm on Tuesday which means it’s been 2 ½ days since the quake that has ruined Christchurch.

         (Have to get rid of the 'NOT'!!!)

You have now seen the images and know some of the stories and that is what its like.  In September, if you look back at our blogs, we spent a lot of energy telling the world that the media was blowing everything out of proportion, that Christchurch was ok, that people should still travel to Christchurch.  This time it is so different - as you see on the news reports – Christchurch is in ruins and army vehicles patrol the streets.  The best thing about Christchurch now is the spirit of the Canterbury people, and with this spirit we are battling through our darkest hour.
                         (The stump of the Cathedral tower from Motel entrance)

We are battling with the physical pain of the possibility of losing hundreds of our neighbours, friends and workmates.  We are also battling with the uncertainty of what will happen next.  After 6 months of enduring aftershock after aftershock, the period between larger jolts had expanded to as much as 7-10 days and we all finally felt that the time had come that life would return to normal.  Unfortunately we have been proven wrong and we feel cheated by a mother nature we now find hard to like. 

And so we started again and are now at day 3.

                   (The Army at our cordon barrier)

Central Christchurch is cordoned at the 4 aves and there is a 6.30pm to 6.30am curfew.  80% of the city does not have water and 40% do not have electricity and there is no real timetable yet as to how things may return to normal.  The effects of the quake are so much greater than the 4 Sep quake.  That so much damage can be caused in such a short period of time is difficult to comprehend but we are reminded of it wherever we go.  

Here at the motel we have managed to clean out all the broken plates, cups and glasses from the rooms.  We estimate that 98% of these were broken.  Today Jeff’s sister and brother in law came and gave us a welcome hand tidying up - we look a lot tidier now.
                             (Mr 12 cleans up the car park)

Today Tomoki left Christchurch with his Grandma and Grandad, they have headed to Jeff’s sister’s farm in Southland for a rest from the shakes.  The 22 Feb. earthquake’s epicentre was under the Port Hills and both they and my sister said that constant aftershocks occurring every 10 minutes or so, made them feel that the hills were constantly moving.  Here, we are lucky, only feeling the larger aftershocks.

So, where to from here?  Today we spent time tidying up and answering phone calls.  We have been busy taking cancellations and there have been so many it has taken a lot of time.  Jeff has been largely ignoring Twitter and Facebook because there were more pressing issues – a real mess to clean up.  We have received an amazing amount of messages and good wishes from people all over the world but at this stage we have not read them.  They will be read tomorrow.  It lifts our hearts to receive these messages and we thank each and every one of you deeply.

Yesterday and today the motel is full, we are hosting contingents of foreign media from Australia and USA but we are wondering what we will do next week after they have gone – incentives to visit Christchurch are so much fewer now.  We will have to put all our efforts into making Christchurch as beautiful as it was so that we will once again be a favourite travel destination.

In closing, Jeff would like to express his heartfelt wishes and prayers to the Japanese students still trapped in the CTV building only 10 minutes walk from here.  Jeff lived his first 3 years in Japan in Toyama, the Prefecture these kids came from.  That something like this could happen on what is meant to have been a trip of a lifetime is very had to comprehend.  They are so far from home, it is so unfair.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Christchurch Earthquake... again...

At 12.50pm on 22 February, 2011, someone decided that Christchurch had not had enough.  We will never know why this verdict was reached but the penalty was harsh.  We have been visited by a vicious ripping apart of the earth and much that we love in our beautiful city is no more.  This of course refers to both the poor souls who are no longer with us as well as the physical destruction.

Once again, we begin our blog journey as we start to get back to normal and will make periodic updates.  

Today’s message was written to reply to all those who asked how we were.

Thanks for the email and your kind thoughts.  We really do appreciate them and we do need them.  Our beautiful city is a mess, the Cathedral Spire is down, 65 are confirmed dead and many are still trapped in collapsed buildings.  Over 1000 people are sleeping in Hagley Park but at least the big tents are up for the Flower Show and they are out of the rain.

We are shaken but safe.  The Motel is structurally sound and we have power but no water 10 hours after the quake.  We should be back to normal in a day or two and we are thankful for that.  It is the wider city area and those trapped, injured and dead that our hearts go out to.  

The kids were both at school and we spent a stressful 3 hours until we got confirmation that they were ok.  Being kids they were excited and we let them go take some photos.  It was not the time to lay down rules, this was their way of coping and they are good, responsible kids.  Some cops told them to get out of the central city and go home….they said they live in the central city!  

In a word, it was massive, much bigger than the 4 Sep quake.  In that quake we did not have any damage in the rooms but this time we lost 95% of our plates, cups and glasses and a few other things will require repairing.  We will need a massive shopping trip but we should be back to normal in a day or two!

In September the quake was 30kms away and a magnitude 7.1.  This time it was situated pretty much under Lyttelton and it was only 5km deep.  The magnitude was only 6.3 but the shallowness and closeness made the result so much worse.

Just as we thought things were getting better after 4 Sep., we are back at step 0.  Tomorrow we take step 1, and then step 2.  One step at a time till we get back to normal again.

Thanks for thinking of us! We really appreciate it.