I had heard the news, but none of the images prepared me for the reality. On 22 February, Christchurch experienced an "aftershock" that almost reached the intensity of the original earthquake, and many of the buildings that had been damaged in the original quake couldn't survive another beating. My favorite B&B, the Devon, lost its entire east wall. The Christchurch Cathedral, a local, national, and international landmark, collapsed. Whole city blocks cracked and lost their structural integrity. Water mains burst, undermining foundations and destroying streets.
As part of the recovery, the Cantebury Emergency Relief Authority had to close off the entire downtown - 10 square city blocks fenced off. Just before I had arrived, CERA had removed the NZ Army Armored Personnel Carriers from road blocks and were allowing sightseers to walk down a narrow corridor to the square.
It looks like a war has happened here - whole city blocks are slated to be torn down. My entire Christchurch experience was in those 10 square blocks, restaurants, bars, hostels and B&B's. I walked around the perimeter of the Red Zone in shock. My heart goes out to the city, and to everyone who lives here.
|Fences and boarded up windows, even for a five-star hotel.|
|Shipping containers are being used to prop up walls, in hope of restoration.|
|On one block, shipping containers have been converted into|
|Stepping stones to hope in a leveled lot.|