Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Christchurch Earthquakes ~ Sumner, a photo-journal from late July 2011

I was in Christchurch briefly at the end of July.  Since my previous visit the earthquake of the 13th June earthquake had occurred, and changes to Sumner, both along its cliffs and in the shopping centre had accelerated.  Barricades in the form of shipping containers had increased in height and length and more buildings had been razed.  The cliffs suffered colossal damage, and many houses in close proximity were disastrously affected.  

Heading towards Sumner and nearing the corner next to the remains of Shag Rock (now known as Shag Pile) this house clings to its bit of hillside:

Around the corner along Peacocks Gallop, the barricade of shipping containers has been increased two high all the way along including around the corner at the far end: at that point traffic is diverted through the car park. 

A number of houses perched at the edge of this cliff face have suffered complete disaster:

A peek behind the barriers revealed this scene:

Along at the other end rock rubble has rolled right to the backs of containers.

In the shopping centre the road has been freed up by the demolition of the historic two storey community centre:

Beyond the empty section is the Marine Backpackers and Bar which is still operating.  There is quite a bit of room behind those buildings to the foot of the cliff face.  There needs to be!  To the right is the community library, still closed, which is flanked on its other side by another unstable building:

Just beyond the intersection of Wakefield Avenue with Nayland Street the barricade of shipping containers has been increased to two high right along to the bend in the road:

Although some businesses are still open the shopping centre itself has a somewhat desolate air, overshadowed as it is by shipping containers, abandoned shops and ongoing demolitions:

The pharmacy moved quite some time ago:

I walked to the far end of the Wakefield Avenue line of shipping containers.  It was quite a distance.  I looked back the other way towards the shops:

And decided I should get off the road:

My curiosity was piqued by the barricades. I took a look behind them:

It's hard to see the scale of things in that image, so I've enlarged part of it, the part which shows the shelter and the up-turned garden seat which can now be seen at the left:

It might look as if there is a lot of room between me and the cliff face, but the magnitude of flying dust, and no doubt debris also, that was thick in the air immediately following the quake of 13th June, makes this a prudent measure.  Those of you who doubt me and who have not seen my article about that event may wish to view the video below.  The scene is across Wakefield Avenue just beyond the end of Stoke Street:

This is what that intersection looked like when I saw it - rather more serene!

Just metres away that same day, one of the earliest houses built in Sumner gave way to the strain and has since been pulled down.  This is what remains: a neat fence, hedge and carefully maintained letterbox:

And around the corner the garage can be seen:

Years ago I watched Bill change the guttering on that place, all carefully done with a view to keeping the place in tip-top order.

Back behind the barricade at the end nearest the shops I had this view:

And a little closer to it I had this view of the side of the library, now freed of encroachment of the collapsing community centre:

My sister has to be one of the keenest users this library has ever had, and noted with concern that the holes in the wall were next to the non-fiction section.  Oh dear!  Weather getting into the books is not good.  The damage and loss resulting from the earthquakes is all so personal to those who live there.

My mother remarked that following the earthquakes of the 13th June a couple she knew of came over from the largely undamaged western suburbs to see what had happened.  Decidedly shocked they repaired to one of the cafes to gain what comfort they could, and found they were eating off paper plates.  All the crockery had been broken, probably for the second or even the third time.

In the midst of it all rattled citizens are coping as best they can.  Many show a wry sense of humour, as does the artist of this neatly painted graffiti:

I'll let them have the last word: yes indeed, Sumner does rock! Let's hear it for them folks!

Postscript 24th September: The Sumner library is now free of the encumbrance of the remaining unstable building as can be seen in these photographs kindly provided by Grace Dalley, which were taken on the 17th:

Postscript (2): Thanks also to brother-in-law John, who contributed some of the images included above.

All my articles about the Christchurch earthquakes and aftermath can be found via the page linked to below, or at the upper right of this screen:

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