Life Will Never Be The Same Again

7 days ago a devastating earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand. Christchurch is my home town, where I was raised, educated, had my first child, and the city I returned to for my marriage. I moved from Christchurch in 2001, but it is still my home, a place that we had hoped to return to live one day.  The 7.1 earthquake of September 4th, 2010 left the city shaken.  People were able to tell tales of terrible rumblings, enormous fright, and close escapes. Homes were left shaken, battered, some unliveable.  Piles of liquefaction lined streets and gardens.  Communities pulled together and helped those in need. An army of students helped to right the city.  And life went on. 

However after the 6.3 earthquake on February 22nd, life will never be the same again. How can a city move on when so very many lives have been lost? The innocent celebrations of September’s close escape have changed to an awful awareness that more than 200 lives have been lost.  Babies. The elderly.  Students. Middle aged people. Residents and tourists.  Doctors and Nurses.  A bus driver.  A fish shop owner.  Every day people doing every day things have witnessed the utter destruction of their city.  Over 500 buildings on the CBD have been either destroyed, or will need to be destroyed.  The Christchurch Cathedral lost its spire, its bells.  And many of the tourists inside it still remain, entombed for now in the stones that once were its walls.  It’s more than the loss of the city’s architectural heritage that has been destroyed. It’s the innocence of Cantabrians.  And while there is much to celebrate about the manner in which locals are helping once again – with so many stories of people cooking for others, the pooling of resources, offers of accommodation, and even the many, many extra flights put on my the national airline for a minimal cost – still there is an enormous sense of loss of innocence.

People are leaving the city. Not just those who are seeking a respite in a place without aftershocks.  Many are leaving, for a life elsewhere.  They are leaving quake ravaged homes, in search of a new life.  Their optimism, their sense that life can be rebuilt, and is worth rebuilding, seems to have fled.  While there are many who will stay, so many people find they are no longer able to do this. For their own sakes, they need to move on and find a future elsewhere. 

So, while Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker intends to rebuild the Cathedral, and while there will be plans for a new city centre emerge from the rubble, from the rumblings, from the mire than has risen, life will never be the same again.  Many home-sick souls who long for the old city, their former innocence, will be starting anew elsewhere.  For my family, who all came out of the quakes unharmed, for my friends – some of whom have lost their homes, and some of whom have miraculous tales of survivals and escapes, most are intending to stay.  However our wee family can no longer plan to rejoin them.  The broken city of Christchurch is still my hometown, still closest to my heart.  But, life there will never be the same.


3 Responses to “Life Will Never Be The Same Again”

  1. 1 Caffeine Girl March 2, 2011 at 1:13 am

    Your hometown has indeed been ravaged by earthquakes. What a terrible tragedy. When you talk about people leaving for good, I can’t help but think of New Orleans, where the population is about half what it was before the flooding.

    My heart goes out to you. It’s hard to see your hometown and its people struggling.

  2. 2 Virginia March 2, 2011 at 8:55 am

    It is a truly terrible tragedy. I will keep you, your family, and your hometown in my heart.

    I am glad that you’re physically ok. Psychically, I’m sure it’ll be a while. I’ve got a good set of shoulders if you need to lean or cry on them.


  3. 3 Harpa Jónsdóttir March 16, 2011 at 2:50 am

    I’m truly sorry. Life can be so cruel and nature is sometimes merciless.

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