Friday, 8 July 2011

Shovelling s**t in Christchurch

Last Saturday, while visiting Christchurch, I decided to help out the Student Volunteer Army by pitching in on their final push to clear the silt. It's great that the volunteering spirit of helping others really comes to the fore in disasters - I just wish it was like that at all times.

I was assigned, with a group, a few properties along the river in New Brighton. Some of the places there have it really rough, with silt coming into their houses through their doors.

One of the places we helped out had a pile of small concrete blocks in their lounge, which used to make up their foundations. We helped them clear the blocks, leaving a big hole in the middle of the room. We then filled this hole with silt from the street, as it was similar to concrete, and would give them a smooth floor. No point in paying for concrete said the guy at the house, because all the houses in the area were in the red zone, so were due to be bulldozed in future anyway. The plan was to cover it in plastic, and put the carpet back on top.

Let's hope there's no more big ones for everyone's sake.

People in the worst affected areas are still very much doing it tough, still dealing with chemical toilets, a lot of dust, very bumpy roads, very little in the way of entertainment left, and of course fear of more quakes. There's a long road ahead.

The Canterbury quakes have underlined the importance of smart regulation, to ensure the land we build on, the buildings we build and the way we develop take into account more than just the short term gains of a developer. These quakes show how we've done some things right in the past, and other things we need to improve. Let us not forget these lessons.