Christchurch Earthquake

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Christchurch Earthquake

Postby paniabrown » 03 Mar 2011, 22:04

Wednesday. Cleaning portable toilets for those without. We started working in Lytellton for the day, the epicentre of the quake. It was windy and hot but not bad, yet! The building which controls the tunnel is in pieces, there is no outside and no inside. It all fell down inside. The tunnel was ok, some minor tile damage, we had chemicals but no escorts can be spared as is usual practice in a tunnel. Lytellton is in pieces, Sam the driver said "Get your camera ready!" Nothing is untouched, most of the town is in piles on the pavement. The navy frigate in port has been feeding everyone there. After Lytellton, we headed to the city centre. Past the cordons we were told by the army and policeman to go to New World South City car park and line up as now everyone has to have a red permit to enter the centre of the city. The line was miles long so we left, leaving the Search and Rescue and Police toilets unserviced...too many others to do to wait in a line. As we headed past the cordons I could see piles and piles of rubble and buildings on the ground and Search and Rescue people and tanks etc. Even the Press aren't allowed in. My photos are all on Facebook. The Grand Chancellor building where my partner and I stayed a night for my 40th, is on a hell of a lean. I can't describe how bad the roads are in most of the city. There are cracks that you would never normally drive over but we had to to get stuff done so we did. All the bridges (and there are hundreds) are lifted up and twisted and cracked, but we still went over them, manholes stick up like tables out of the road, some are spray painted, some not yet. Whole roads washed out have been hurriedly repaired.
As the day progressed, the wind picked up and up and by the end of the day my eyes were streaming, the dust was in my ears, my nose, my teeth. Horrible, and then you can't have the windows down because of the dust blowing. Today I can't stop coughing. Everyone was wearing masks which is weird and scary in itself, like in a plague or something. I saw kids in the poorest suburbs playing on trampolines covered in the dust, I saw kids playing and skating and just standing watching all the goings on and machinery with their masks on, staring. You wonder what they make of it all, what they will remember. One girl was wearing a "Don't Worry Be Happy" tshirt. On one street we passed an old lady who had picked all her flowers and was giving them away at her front gate. Her sign said "Cheer yourself up. Please take a bunch". Everywhere there are handwritten signs tied to posts and gates: "Thank you for your help" "We love you" "Free water, help yourself" "Come in, we have a washing machine" "Stay strong Christchurch" "Stop. Pray" "Lost cat. Have you seen her?" "Danger, holes in road" and the more official "Residents Only Please Respect Privacy" and in Aranui, one of Christchurch's hardest hit and poorest suburbs "Slow the fuk down!". People's houses are being shaken by all the traffic and machinery going by, some will still fall down and people are freaking out with all the heavy traffic on so few roads.
Between loos I took photos, I missed a lot and didn't take photos of people's homes like a tourist, but I saw into so many homes because many are like a giant has ripped them apart, in half or whole sides off. You see right into people's rooms and lives, their beds, sofas, kitchens, their belongings, kid's toys, teddy bears, clothing, either left in homes or piled up in the garden or on the foot path. Most houses now have a white sticker (ok to live in) yellow (partial damage) and red (to be demolished and unsafe). Everywhere there is ruin, and it did my head in yesterday. It takes a while for the enormity of it to sink in and and to be able to make any sense of it all. But there is no sense so your brain doesn't understand. Well mine doesn't anyway. It's like a movie set but it's real. The noise of the trucks and the earthmovers, cars, police sirens, helicopters and bumping around in the pump truck wore me down.
On Tuesday it took me ages to get there and about 2 and half hours to drive home. Traffic jams for miles, 2nd gear all the way to the outskirts. I got home at 7.30. Left at 7am. I can't tell you what the relief of being away from the city is like, and yet I feel very drawn to going in back the next day.
As far as the job itself goes, I can only tell you that the saying from the movie Kenny "a smell that will outlive religion" applies. I tried not to look into the loos, to switch off and to not breath for most of the day. I was with Sam who was wonderful and helpful. Frank from the day before, just as lovely. They drive, do the pumping and then I go in and clean what's left, once the blue tablets are in the bowl and you start spraying it's ok. But some were beyond description. Whole streets using them and some very upset stomachs out there. People have been going in bags and putting the bags into the loos, which blocks the pump and has to come out by hand. George says some people are 'animals', 'pigs', but what choice have some of them had? The best toilets have air freshener provided by some kind soul and one had a little bunch of flowers in it. It's the little things.
Sam is a Wellington born Samoan who is still on parole and a Mongrel mob member although he told me he is what's called an "Old Dog" now, a sort of lapsed member, because you don't ever actually leave the Mob. He's worked for Dakin's for 9 years, and has a lot of respect for a company that hires ex-crims. He is covered with tattoos and is 65 years old. He starts work early and finsihes about 7 every night. His house is ok but inside is wrecked and he hasn't had time to do anything yet. We dropped in to check on his dog half way through the day, he has a neatly clipped Bichon Frisse called Jessie, who he calls his "Baby" - who knew? I couldn't think of a nicer person to spend the day with. The stuff I saw him do yesterday was phenomenal, beyond the job description by far, and I'm sure the pay is s**t if you'll excuse the pun. And he did all the worst simply so I wouldn't have to. Everywhere we went he asked did I want a drink, was I ok, did I need a break, did I mind if he smoked in the truck (I did, so he didn't) and was relieved to hear me swear so then he could to. Seeing what we saw, you can't not swear. At one check point he grabbed his bottle of water and gave it to a worker covered in dust in the street. I don't know if he knew him or not. He told me about an idiot driver from the previous day who had sped up to run a light and almost caused a lady to crash. He followed this guy to the lights, where they both got out of their cars and there were some words spoken. The bloke asked was Sam threatening him? Sam said "No. I'm not threatening you I am telling you I will give you a punch in the mouth". A threat is when you don't follow through with what you say. He told me (between toilets) about his life of being abused and being an abuser, to his first wife and children, when he drank and took drugs and put his Mob mates ahead of everyone else. Now his kids ring him everyday to see that he's ok and he has loads of grandchildren. He told me he is an AA member (sober from drugs and alcohol for 5 years now), of his love of his family, his current partner Louise and how he sings and plays country music in his spare time. He recently buried his god son who was the youngest member (17) of the Pike River Mine disaster. Tuesday afternoon he buried a work member who had a heart attack after the earthquake. Most of the crew went to the funeral at 3 on Tuesday and then back to work afterwards. Sam said he felt bad for wearing his overalls and gumboots but noone minded. The guy who died was a deaf mute who was a past weightlifter for NZ, and now coached weightlifting and worked in the factory at Dakins making plastics. He went home holding his chest after the quake and died that night at his mothers. He was 60.
Sam tells me he's had a "rough couple of months" with all the deaths and this too, but figures it's best to just keep working. One of his colleagues has gone on "stress leave" after the quake and it's left the other drivers short and a bit pissed off. Frank was supposed to leave Wednesday for the West Coast and a new job but has been convinced to stay longer. Last night Sam rang my friend Di (Dakin) at home to see if I got through the day ok and was alright. I can't believe that he would worry about ME being alright, makes me feel soft! He will be out there again today. And tomorrow, and the day after that and the day after that. I am luck enough to be home today away from the madness.
As the day went on, it got very hot and like I said the dust and the smell gets worse. At least in the wind you could breath away from the truck for a bit. I had a full migraine by the day's end, despite taking Panadol all afternoon and drinking water. I didn't complain but I'm sure Sam knew I was wrecked. He kindly dropped me off at the depot at 4.30 before he went to the treatment plant, and I thanked him, grabbed my bag and went. As I left I started shaking and couldn't stop. The smell from the day followed me into the car and just down the road I pulled over and tried to get under control. I stank, so I changed clothes and chucked my others into the back. It didn't make a lot of difference. My head was so bad it was making me feel sick and I didn't know how I was going to drive 2 hours home, I was white and shaking and could see the lines where I'd been crying in the dirt and dust on my face. I got a bit of a grip because I had to, and got back in the car and started driving. I avoided Brougham Street where the worst of the traffic was Tuesday and headed for Cashmere. I didn't really know where I was going just a genral direction, and that if I followed that out to Hallswell Junction Rd I figured I could avoid the city. Even at the worst times I have an uncanny sense of direction. I was very tired and worried about the traffic and being alone. There was a lot of terrible fissures in the road I never would normally drive over but I kept going. I hit a big jam as I came in towards Hornby, but once out of the city the traffic flowed better. There was tons of cars like the day before coming back in. The wind was howling and it was hard to drive and stay awake. I was sat the end of my tether. I dry retched and coughed a lot. When I finally got off the main road past Rakaia, I finally pulled over and was sick again and again until my stomach was empty. I don't know why. Delayed shock. It was howling and I could barely stand up and was freezing, so I had a bit of a cry and a yell (middle of nowhere) then got back in and drove the rest of the way home. I played Oasis the whole way home, especially A Bell Will Ring.
As my partner came to meet me I burst into tears and tried to explain why, but I couldn't really. He tried to hug me but I told him I stank and just dumped my clothes and got into the shower. After I got out I curled up in bed with wet hair and tried to sleep the headache off. I woke about an hour later still with a headache and got up and went through to the lounge still crying. Some news was on. I found it hard to look at it having been there. Reporters are so clean and unaffected, or they seem to be.
My partner made me tea and toast, but by 8 I realised I needed to try and sleep it off and went back to bad. I couldn't close my eyes without the days images and smells flooding back and I had to get up and be sick again. Finally I fell asleep.
This morning I feel shell shocked. I haven't lost anyone or anything. We feel like we have a sanctuary here at the moment and today I just want to stay home. I have helped as much as I am able to for now, but I feel guilty for not doing more, but I don't know how much is enough. When I left Christchurch last night I thought that I never ever want to go back there, but now I know I will because you have to, we all have to. It was just all too much and I am not as tough as I think. I hope it's not too windy there today. Sam said rain would be better than heat and wind. Mud better than dust, but it's windy here now.
Anyway that's all really. All out is better than all in.
As I write this they are reading more names of the dead. It is now a Recovery, not a Rescue Mission.
You all take care. Let there be love.
Px
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Christchurch Earthquake

Postby carryusallhere » 04 Mar 2011, 15:38

Pania. what a moving story. A bell will ring is a wonderful song. We arrive in Blenheim on 15th March and go on to Kaikoura but we won't be going into Christchurch this time. Having a good cry helps, as you say better out than in. I hope you are feeling better soon. But the sadness continues for a long time.
Have faith and it will carry us all
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Christchurch Earthquake

Postby carryusallhere » 04 Mar 2011, 15:38

Pania. what a moving story. A bell will ring is a wonderful song. We arrive in Blenheim on 15th March and go on to Kaikoura but we won't be going into Christchurch this time. Having a good cry helps, as you say better out than in. I hope you are feeling better soon. But the sadness continues for a long time.
Have faith and it will carry us all
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Christchurch Earthquake

Postby carryusallhere » 04 Mar 2011, 15:38

Pania. what a moving story. A bell will ring is a wonderful song. We arrive in Blenheim on 15th March and go on to Kaikoura but we won't be going into Christchurch this time. Having a good cry helps, as you say better out than in. I hope you are feeling better soon. But the sadness continues for a long time.
Have faith and it will carry us all
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Christchurch Earthquake

Postby paniabrown » 04 Mar 2011, 21:55

Thanks for you kind words, sometimes it's easier to say things to strangers and on line than to the people closest to you. I hope you enjoy your NZ trip. And thanks for the RedCross donation. Regards Paniax
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Christchurch Earthquake

Postby Gimli, son of Gloin » 30 Mar 2011, 12:20

carryusallhere wrote:Have faith and it will carry us all

:lol: What a fag.
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Christchurch Earthquake

Postby R.9 » 06 Apr 2011, 15:33

Gimli, son of Gloin wrote:
carryusallhere wrote:Have faith and it will carry us all

:lol: What a fag.


:lol:
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Christchurch Earthquake

Postby carryusallhere » 19 Apr 2011, 16:46

Hi pania
How are things going. I have now returned from NZ and Brisbane and had a wonderful holiday, everyone was extra friendly I think. So sad about all the destruction though. Hope things improve soon
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Christchurch Earthquake

Postby carryusallhere » 19 Apr 2011, 16:47

ps Carry us all was written by Noel. Check it out it is one wonderful "B" side
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