Monday, October 25, 2010

Life in the Quake Zone

It has been more than one and half month since the big earthquake (September 4) and the ground here in Christchurch is still shaking. The very stressing “aftershocks” (and possibly, “foreshocks” of a much bigger one), keep disrupting everyone and personally, it is kind of annoying and exciting at the same time.

Christchurch Quake Map
As of 24 October 2010, there were about over 2200 aftershocks (and still counting) that hit the Canterbury region and not all of them can be considered “aftershocks” since some of them were not even from the same fault line. Some of the small quakes were new earthquakes or, as I pointed out, earlier, “foreshocks” for an upcoming bigger earthquake. The numbers of quakes suggested that what happened in Canterbury is an example of (or closest thing to) an “Earthquakes Swarm”, where a local area experiences sequences of many earthquakes striking in a relatively short period of time. The length of time used to define the swarm itself varies, but the United States Geological Survey points out that an event may be on the order of days, weeks, or months.

As I mentioned in my earlier blog entry, ever since my high school geography teacher told everyone in my class that the South Island of New Zealand is moving one inch closer to the North Island every year, I always have this strange feeling that a big quake will happen and it did happened six years later.

Ever since the big earthquake, I am even more paranoid and stress out. Every time I go to bed and about to go to sleep, I can feel the ground shaking as if its like sleeping on the top of washing machine. Though, I got used to it, still disrupting and pisses me off.

Anyway, these quakes and aftershocks may have been a blessing in disguise. If we look at other recent earthquakes like the one Haiti where it has almost similar magnitude of earthquake (Haiti: 7.0 and Canterbury: 7.1). Haiti's quakes had an estimated 230,000 deaths and it looks like its going to get worse because of a recent epidemic over there. Christchurch, on the other hand, had one casualty and it was not even a human (it was a poor lemur).

The aftershocks also weakened some historical buildings that survived the big quake and as a result, they were (or bound to be) demolished for safety reason. Though, I believe some of those buildings are fixable and I always thought that if you cannot fix it, tore it down but if it is fixable then why not fix it. It sad to see those historical buildings that served as the link and reminder for Christchurch residents to the past but now have to bring it down. Demolishing historical buildings for the sake of modern commercialism is like taking away the Englishness out of the most English* city of New Zealand.
P.S. Happy Labour Day New Zealand!

[*] Not referring to the “English language” but rather of the “English” (Anglo) origin of the city.

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