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Christchurch Earthquake Update

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A southeast view of Christchurch

An update on Christchurch, New Zealand, after the 2010-2011 earthquakes that demolished its Central Business District

It has been 20 months since the first earthquake rocked Christchurch, New Zealand, and 16 months since the devastating 6.3 shake demolished the Central Business District (CBD), and a lot has been done since the rescue parties moved on and the demolition crews moved in (ELEVATOR WORLD, July 2011).

A significant number of buildings have been removed including most tower blocks, but about 20% of these are still to be demolished. I suspect rebuilding of the CBD will not begin until 2013, and it may take another decade before a semblance of normalcy returns. But there is hope that the opportunity to rebuild will be considered and a better city will emerge from the rubble. Another hope is the people of the city’s needs are not overlooked and Christchurch can once again be a good place in which communities can grow and we can be proud.

With so much damage to drainage, water supplies, roads and sewage, let alone buildings, time has been lost to the immensity of the problems. Progress seems slow, but the rubble is gradually being removed, and the foundations on which to build are being re-established. With each individual being affected differently, it is difficult to gauge how people are fairing in their everyday lives. There are many stories of hardship, along with the lucky escapes that still dominate every get together or conversation, but many people are standing alone against a nonresponsive insurance industry, which presently has hold of their lives.

There are 1,035 public buildings to be either demolished or made safe in Christchurch. Of these, 770 had been demolished as of May, with another 180 still to go. Fifty of these buildings have been deemed significant structures and are more than five stories high. The Park Royal Hotel, once the proud crown jewel of Christchurch’s hotels and lately known as the Crowne Plaza Hotel, now resides as just a pile of concrete rubble to be ingloriously disposed.

There are still many 15-story-plus buildings to come down. Until they do, I suspect the cordon around the Red Zone will remain. Once these landmarks are gone, the city will only have a couple of buildings over 15 stories with acres of undeveloped blocks on which to make a restart. This is not expected to happen until the end of the year. No one knows how long it will take to recreate this city; all I know is, I will most likely be retired in the 18 months before my home is rebuilt to achieve some normality, then wait another decade or more to gain a semblance of what was.                                              

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Elevator World | August 2012 Cover

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