I am currently in Dunedin staying with my sister V. My sister J brought me and her two daughters down on Wednesday, and has driven back up today so she can work at the hospital while childcare centres are closed. The idea is that I am helping Christchurch by not being a burden on it and by providing childcare for doctors, but just like last time I feel horribly guilty for being away. Trying to be rational. But still feeling overwhelmed with love for my home and sorrow at the way things are right now. I don't have the energy to think about how different things will be on the streets of Christchurch, once elegant, pleasant and cheerful, in the coming years.
I'm happy at the number of people they have managed to pull out of the rubble alive, and so incredibly proud of the people of the city who have been working valiantly and thoughtfully in the rescue effort, and so grateful to all the teams that have flown in from around the country and the world to lend their generous hands. We're not lucky, but it is wonderful to live in a stable country with good organisational systems to cope with a situation like this, and to have good international relationships. But I feel particularly bleak about those still trapped, dead or alive. The father of a good friend from church was in the CTV building, which has been pronounced "100% unsurvivable". Friends of my sister's walked from the centre of the city then over the Port Hills to get to their homes in Lyttleton (the centre of the quake) and were crushed on the way by boulders dislodged by aftershocks. Everyone knows someone who has died, or someone whose life has been transformed by the death of a loved one.
Dunedin has been my refuge from horrible things several times now, and I'm very grateful for the chance to shower, wash my hair, flush the toilet without thinking about it, brush my teeth with tap water, pop down to the supermarket, catch a bus, visit the bank, etc, etc. But in my heart I just want to be at home. My supervisor, who recently moved to Australia, emailed me to find out if I was safe, and when I had replied with reassurance he said how horrible it was to be among people whose lives just went on when, for him, it was like a part of himself had been ripped away.
Here are some photos of Christchurch before and after.
Aerial footage of the city.