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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Blog - Christchurch's rebuild, and my own (Will Harvey)

Christchurch's rebuild, and my own

Last updated 15:42 04/03/2011
They were still digging people out of wrecked Christchurch buildings when I started cleaning up my earthquake-damaged home. People were probably still trapped alive - and I was clearing brick and muttering about water damage to carpet and books. It doesn't sit right.

By that time - Thursday after the quake - cordons were up around the central business district and professional responders were doing everything possible to save lives. There was nothing I could do to help. Meanwhile, thousands of workers and volunteers were clearing streets of silt, opening bridges, restoring power and accomplishing everything else that had to be done.

So, like most Cantrabians, I turned away from the desolation and looked after my own. My family was uninjured - my two boys were safely at primary school, my wife in her fifth-floor office at the University of Canterbury - when the February 22 quake struck. No other family of mine lives in New Zealand.

Our neighbourhood, Mount Pleasant, was one of the badly hit eastern suburbs. Our home is about 3km from the epicentre and took a good wallop. It's a two-story, red brick edifice built in about 2003, and structurally intact, as far as we can tell. Some the red brick came down and most of the rest of the brick is fractured and unstable.

Inside, the pantry, fridge, cupboards and bookshelves unburdened themselves. The gib is everywhere cracked and sagging. Arguably, the worst damage inside was caused by a broken pipe above the hot water cylinder. It's sited on the upper floor and 300 litres of water poured on to carpet, ran through ceilings, walls and electrical outlets and then spread laterally.

This blog will follow Canterbury's recovery from the 2011 quake. In coming weeks and months (and years!), I'll follow the wider rebuild and the many twists and turns to come. I'll compare the words and deeds of politicians and bureaucrats, name heroes and shame charlatans. If it concerns the recovery, it's my fodder.

I'll also cover my personal rebuild. Getting our house and lives back to their September 3 state will be a journey and struggle. Come along as I deal with EQC, builders and trades. I've funerals to attend, tears to shed, victories to celebrate. It won't always be fun, but there are yarns to be told and swapped.

- The Press

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