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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Blog: Wheels turn (Vicki Anderson)

Wheels turn

Last updated 09:06 24/06/2011
Stuck in the car surrounded by other tired and stressed commuters in a traffic gridlock, it strikes me that Christchurch itself is also 'stuck at the lights'.

Green Zone - Repair / rebuild process can begin.

Orange Zone - Further assessment required.

Red Zone - Land repair would be prolonged and uneconomic.

White Zone - CBD or hillside suburb, mapping still underway.

Or, in traffic terms - go, wait, stop, we dunno.

Looking up paints a bleak and, at times, confusing picture - how can one solitary house in a red-zone street be green?

My heart goes out to all those in the red zone and also to those thousands of people in the orange and white zones, still stuck idling at the lights in Limboland.

Ringing affected friends in the east felt a little bit like ringing someone who has just been diagnosed with a major illness. What do you say? Should you call straight away or give them a bit of time to come to terms with the news?

Even though they pretty much knew what the news was going to be, for those in our city's new non-CBD red zone it was still hard and painful to hear.

As my unfortunate colour-blind friend living in Avonside said: ''You don't have to be able to see red, to start seeing red.''

All of them felt the Government had been fair with their offer, considering the unprecedented events which have led to this situation. For many it was simply good to ''finally have an announcement'' after months of uncertainty.

Cera and the Government have at long last given them a starting point and now they can start to plan the future for their families - whatever and wherever that future may be.

Others are still left waiting and wondering.

For those in the red zone, to hear you've lost your home, your community, your way of life and, to a certain extent, your sense of identity, is extremely difficult to come to grips with and as unsettling as the events which caused it.

Of course a home is where and what you make it, but I can't even get my quake-addled brain around the concept of entire communities dispersing.

Losing your neighbourhood is huge.

And for people ''in the red'' to have to make such enormous life-changing decisions after months of shattered nerves and sleep-deprivation (there's a reason it's used as a form of torture by some) is gut-wrenchingly awful and extremely challenging.

Even some in the green zone are still left waiting at the lights.

One friend is living in a cold ''broken'' home with no amenities surrounded by liquefaction and is upset she will have to wait - who knows how long - until her green-zoned home is repaired. And she has to live with this knowing that with every shake her first home that she worked three jobs for is decreasing in value.

Perhaps, as other cultures do, we should be turning to our elderly for tips on how to cope right now.

I was lucky enough to talk to a delightful 89-year-old recently who lives in the eastern suburbs.

She doesn't like the internet. She hadn't seen the landcheck site and didn't know what colour her house has been officially given but was fairly confident her home was solid enough for her to continue living alone in, even though she has been waiting since September for repairs to its foundations.

''A home is not red, green, orange or white - a home is a rainbow,'' she said.

She experienced her first major earthquake when she was six.

''Christchurch is a city at war,'' she said. ''We don't know when the earthquake enemy will strike, we just have to prepare for the attack as best we can.

''You know you can't stop them. You can't do anything about it. So I say 'why worry about what you can't change'? You can't live your life like that - that's not living, it's existing.

''All you can do is make the best of each day, the best way you can, with whatever life chooses to deal you.''

Under grey skies nested in smog, choking with the acids of industry, slowly the wheels turn.

- The Press

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