Sunday, March 6, 2011

From our ex-patriot L-Dubber from Down-Unda - a little shaken and stirred...

Capt. Wm. S. Stafford (Ret.)
Master of Science Degree (AvSciTech)
Commercial Pilot ASMEL
Instrument Airplane
FCF Flight Engineer C-130B, E & H
Airframe Mechanic
Royal New Zealand Coast Guard Boatmaster # 38155


32 Kensington Avenue
Rangiora 7400

6 March 2011 

Mr. Wes Blackman
(via E-Mail)

G’Day Wes;

 Here in the Lands Down-Unda, we are holding our own at the moment on the outskirts of Christchurch.

 Since the day of the 22 February quake last week, we have not ventured into Christchurch; the roads are torn-up, roughly patched over and many arteries are no-go areas, causing traffic problems. The busses are running, albeit on minimised routes, and the CBD remains cordoned off.

 However, today the cordon shrunk.  Govt is now allowing homeowners and businesses to go in and gather their personal items, effects and business tools out of condemned buildings and the closed-off CBD. Many businesses have relocated to the western side of the city which still has some underground infrastructure and lots of warehouse space in steel framed buildings that average 15 years old.

 The Australian Police are here to assist, and they were sworn-in shortly after arriving at ChchInternational Airport.  The Royal New Zealand Army is also patrolling the worst hit areas along the coast as they have the ATV’s and Mercedes Unimogs that can traverse the heavily damaged areas. The New Zealand Police responded quickly from several surrounding towns, as did the Fire Brigades.

 The eastern side of town is basically munted, and liquefaction brought-up five times the amount of silt as did the September 4 Quake. University students from Canterbury were out with shovels cleaning up the streets, as many of their classroom and lecture halls are write-offs.

 Seismologists are calling this the world’s most destructive quake based upon it’s gravity acceleration, shallow depth and proximity to Christchurch.  Whilst the Richter Scale magnitude was over 6, the other factors such as loose soils, liquefaction, and 100 year old brick buildings contributed to the overall destruction.

 As a result, Prime Minister John Key has re-assigned many portfolios of the Right Honourable Gerry Brownlee (whose home was heavily damaged in the 4 September Quake) to other Cabinet members to allow Minister Brownlee to focus solely on the two quakes.  Minister Brownlee is cutting thru a lot of red tape to get the mess cleaned up ASAP. Those heritage buildings which were damaged are coming down as they pose a hazard to human life.

 This is the most costly natural disaster, far exceeding Hurricane Katrina in pay=outs from international insurance groups.  Katrina did a lot of wind, and surface damage, but the underground infrastructurewas left intact.  Not so down here.  There are a lot of health hazards (ie raw sewage in the streets, silt dust with bacteria and viruses that is blown-around by high winds, and the constant aftershocks that tip many of the building facades over into the streets.

 Another Minister, the Right Honourable Leann Dalziel, had her house on the east side trashed during the first quake in September, and her neighbourhood of Bexley is probably going to be a write-off, with no further houses being built on that sight.

 We are finishing-up on most repairs to our house this coming week.  We are the fortunate few being 45 km’s from the center of Christchurch, but many have packed what they could carry and have left the region for good, going to North Island, or to Aussie.

 Many of the schools which remained opened are now severely overcrowded due to taking-on students from the condemned schools.  We have seen a dramatic increase in the population of Rangiora overnight, along with the problems that overcrowding begets.

 There is a mathematician here whose name is Ken Ring. He predicted these quakes using astronomy, the moon’s apogee, gravitics and magnetic field variations.  He came within 2 days of each quake. The next big one is scheduled for 19-21 March of this year.  While many have dismissed his forecast (it’s bad for business and the local economy), others are leaving.  Air New Zealand is offering $50 seats to anywhere in New Zealand for quake survivors, and to those who feel the need to get out.

 That’s the latest from Christchurch.  Feel free to post this on the blog for those Kiwis and Brits who may happen to be in Florida.