Thursday, May 19, 2011

Going up, looking down & moving on

It's been a busy week here in Shakeytown... well for me at least! Lots of writing, teaching, marking & going to appointments all over town including one out at uni, where I haven't been since February. Had things gone according to plan this year, by now I would have almost finished my two remaining honours papers and be preparing for a Masters project. Instead I've been spending my time on a different campus entirely, one that borders the red zone, with depressing vistas that consist largely of wire fences, leaning/broken buildings & soldiers on cordon duty.

So it was a nice change to be out at the university's Ilam campus, and pleasing to note that the lecture tents have been packed away. There was one reminder of the canvas town that was there until recently: the large marquee that housed the temporary cafe - InTentCity 6.3 - was still in the Law carpark.

I was there to sign off on an extension to a research project I was doing for one of the English lecturers in Jan/Feb, and stopped to say hi to a couple of people on the way. One of the staff members I know had not used an elevator since the September quake... now she refuses to go up at all, even via the stairs. If anyone needs to see her, they know where her (ground floor) office is.

My friend the English lecturer was telling me of the disruption caused to a colleague whose papers and books had been removed from his office to enable repairs. Academics tend to work among organised piles of chaos - to the untrained eye it seems disorderly but they know where stuff is... kind of... however he is now lost in his own office because everything is in a different place.

As I was waiting for the appropriate office person to come back from a meeting so I could sign the paperwork, I realised that this was the highest I'd been - in a building, in Christchurch - since February's quake.
It was only the third floor but for some people, even that is now too high... which is a pity, cos the view was lovely.

People at uni have only recently moved back into buildings but there are still some that remain closed, awaiting engineers reports and insurance decisions. The prognosis looks bleak for the Student Union building which houses the Ngaio Marsh theatre, The Foundry (student bar), food outlets, shops & more... and rdu, the campus radio station that I've been listening to for many years (cos commercial radio drives me nuts!), and also where I used to host a couple of radio shows in my younger days. They've been making-do, just like anyone who can't get into their home or business premises. Here's breakfast host Spanky talking to the station director about future plans...

Many of us here in Shakeytown are playing a waiting game... waiting for insurance companies, waiting for geotechnical land reports, waiting for access, waiting for other people to decide what happens in our future. It's not easy on anyone, especially those home owners who are waiting to hear whether or not their land will be repaired. There are fears that whole streets and suburbs will have to be abandoned, with uncertainty fueling rumours that grow more and more dire with each retelling. A local writer/blogger/scientist, David Haywood, has spent some time considering the issues - both technical and financial - involved in rescuing some of our beautiful character homes in riverside areas affected by lateral spreading. Long but worth the read, and even has some pictures & diagrams to help those of us with much less technical knowledge understand the concepts involved.

Meanwhile... we wait...
and wait...
and wait...
and wait...
Gettn a bit sick of waiting... figure it might be time to start stirring again soon. It's been almost 3 months since February's devastating shake, and 8 1/2 months since the September shake that munted our house. It has not been easy - emotionally or financially - and it would be nice to finally make some progress.

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