4 September 2010 – 2 years later

On 4 September 2010 I was a volunteer Civil Defence controller. Some disconnected impressions:

  • Rude awakening, thinking of Haiti.
  • Thinking the house was coming down, but then it didn’t – in fact, seemed OK.
  • Newstalk ZB off the air – so back to the National Programme.
  • Surprised it wasn’t the alpine fault.
  • Radio report that Harcourts Kaiapoi down – oh! oh!
  • Walking into the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) with a guy offering a helicopter. Still dark.
  • Intelligence gathering already underway. Clear biggest problems were around Kaiapoi.
  • Main bridges closed, just in case they were unsafe.
  • EOC starting to hum. Staff drifting in. Crews out checking water, sewer, roads.
  • Got a ride from Southbrook in first helicopter flight with Council engineers Gerard Cleary and Gary Boot – pumping stations and pipelines their priority.
  • Mandeville Bridge all broken.
  • Hilton St by Dudley Drain – culvert has popped up – impassable to vehicles.
  • Chimneys broken.
  • Charles St sewerage pumping station doesn’t look good.
  • Liquefaction all through eastern Kaiapoi.
  • More of it in Kairaki and Pines Beach. Power pole just about down.
  • Ocean outfall pipeline seems OK.
  • A bit of liquefaction at Woodend Beach and Waikuku Beach – not too bad.
  • Pegasus and Woodend look OK.
  • Ashley Bridge north of Rangiora has stayed up – surprise!
  • Rangiora looks good from the air.
  • Back to landing point in Southbrook.

Later in the day:

  • In Kaiapoi now. Bridge closed by Police.
  • Museum really badly knocked around.
  • Corcoran French and old BNZ (John Rhind) buildings on a lean.
  • Former Post Office looks OK, but wouldn’t trust it.
  • Blackwells damaged – excavator is making it safer by knocking bits off it.
  • National and regional news media concentrating on Christchurch.

And through it all, a beautiful spring day.  Many people left their homes, but by nightfall, all had found somewhere to go.  No-one had to be put up at the welfare centre.  The EOC stayed on duty all through the night, but there was little to do until daybreak.

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