Saturday, February 26, 2011

The toll just rises

In my mind I am speculating whether the 200 odd missing people in Christchurch includes the 140 confirmed dead. I suspect not. ABC Melbourne's Jon Faine broadcast on Tuesday morning at about eleven o'clock our time that an earthquake had occurred in Christchurch. Who could have imagined those few simple words would usher in the disaster to unfold.

I got into a bit of an online blue with a local bloke in an email list who had lived in New Zealand, not Chch, for a few years. Essentially he was focused on what people had lost, that they even were being subjected to the indignity of digging holes in their backyards to use as latrines , and I, as a dispassionate outsider, was stressing the importance of symbolism. That is, if the cathedral can be repaired, it should be. If the tourist tram can run again, it should, and soon. Of course neither should be ahead of ensuring the restitution of basic services and housing, but creating a sense of the future, that all will return to normality is important. It creates faith and reinforces to locals that the political will is there for them. The familiar, symbolism and routine are so very important in our lives. That said, I perhaps should have been more sensitive to the pain my protagonist was feeling.

Oh, I just refreshed the New Zealand Herald website and the toll is now 145. This is truly a nightmare.

Christchurch is going to need money pumped into it, lots of money. I will guess that Chch is New Zealand's second largest city and there seems to be a little antipathy towards the largest city, Auckland. I found the latter half of this article quite interesting.

In the manner of a curate's egg, natural disasters such as Queensland and Victoria's floods, Queensland's cyclone and now Chch's earthquake can give incredible economic stimulus. Imagine the way money starts being exchanged. Imagine the employment available. People working and spending makes economies work, on local and larger levels. I very much doubt PM Key can hold true to the usual conservative mantra of lower taxes and less government involvement. Of course though, serious money has to come from somewhere. Over to you PM Key and the gnomes of Zurich.


  1. Our newest member to our house hold is from England. She has been here since November 2010. When she left home from England there were the worst snow/blizzard conditions in like.. forever. When she left Brisbane, floods, when she left Cairns, a cyclone and just last week, she left Christchurch and now the earthquake. She sees it as being her fault in some way. But, now I have read your post here Andrew, I am going to show her it. I want her to concentrate on what you say in the last paragraph, that out of all this there will be jobs created, money exchanged and rebuilding of economy. Perhaps she can then look at it from a positive perspective.
    All being said, I feel so much pain for everyone affected. I have a friend who went on a med-evac with the RAAF over to Christchurch- bless 'em all.

  2. Parts of the city might well have to be abandoned if the aftershocks keep coming at the same shallow depth as the main quake. The old buildings won't take much more shaking.

  3. As badly situated as the dead, are the survivors whose workplaces no longer exist, whose cars have disappeared, who have no utilities at all, and who are grieving lost family on top of all that.

    I like to think though, that some of them winched an ATM out of a crevasse before any authorities noticed.

    In 1931 the NZ city of Napier was destroyed by a 7.8 scale earthquake, and their rebuilding created a perfect art-deco city. They just had their celebratory weekend 15th to 20th February when architecture mavens dress 30's style and enjoy the elegance. We hope Christchurch can soon be so positive.

  4. Andrew, they have just clarified.... the number of missing does include the confirmed dead who they haven't identified yet.

  5. Well Cazzie, you would be getting a bit paranoid about disasters happening in your wake.

    Jah Teh, whatever happens, it certainly won't be the same ever again. I try not to think of the buildings at this stage, but it is a terrible loss.

    Napier is a good example. I have never found out if their was an intention to create an art deco city, or it just happened.

    Thanks KN. Obviously I wasn't the only one wondering.