Notes From a Disaster Zone

I sit here typing this as helicopters continually fly overhead. It feels a little like a Vietnam War movie. Copter after copter, some loaded with monsoon buckets – when I could go for for days and not see one. There are continual aftershocks. Huge jolting shakes – many over 5.0 on the Richter scale.

40% of the of our city of 400,000 is without power. 80% without running water or toilets.

There is real fear of water borne disease as sewer and water pipes are ruptured all over the city.

People are being asked to dig holes in their back gardens for toilets.

The family is currently boling water and filling bottles for friends who have no water.

There are massive queues in supermarkets, petrol stations and at emergency water stations. Farmers are bringing tanker trucks full of water to specified points in the city.

The central city looks like it has been bombed. Buildings are down everywhere. The City’s tallest building, The Grand Chancellor Hotel is leaning against a neighboring building and could collapse at any time. Nobody knows how many more buildings the “domino effect’ could take down.

The eastern suburbs are now a network of flooded buckled roads. The whole east side of Christchuch is built on swamp and water and sand is bubbling through everywhere as the quake and continual aftershocks have turned the ground to jelly. Many people in the East live week to week and they are suffering without power and water as food supplies run low.

The affluent seaside suburb of Sumner and the port town of Lyttelton – where the quake was centered are in ruins. Boulders the size of trucks have careened down hillsides, right through houses. Roads are blocked through landslips all over the area and the Lyttelton Road Tunnel is out of service.

This means Christchurch can’t get petrol from the port and fuel is being trucked in from Timaru,  100 miles away.

The official  death toll is in the 70s, but there are over 300 people still missing and countless bodies are being left in the wreckage as rescue teams desperately try to find the still living.

Very few of the dead have been identified. A friend of mine, Jo Giles is missing, believed to be the downed five story Canterbury TV building, which may hold more than 50 people.

There are believed to be 20 people in the wrecked Christchurch Cathedral, an iconic city landmark.

Teams from Australia, Britain, the US, Taiwan and other countries are working with our soldiers, police, fire and rescue services to rescue the living.

We are all so grateful for this help.

The last live person was pulled from rubble yesterday, but we are all hoping for miracles.

Even our major rugby venue, the AMI stadium has been badly damaged. Our world champion Crusaders rugby team, has forgone their Super 15 match this weekend in Wellington, in solidarity with the suffering here.

After the last big earthquake in September 2010, we were all hoping that this year’s Rugby World Cup (which New Zealand is hosting) would bring much needed tourism into the city. That is now in real doubt as the central city is almost totally destroyed and many large hotels are badly damaged or completely wrecked.

Last year’s quake was estimated to have caused $4 to $8 million in damage. Estimates of a further $10 to $16 in damage are already being bandied about.

Apart from my friend Jo, my family has been relatively untouched so far s. As casualties are named however I expect this to change. With several hundred deaths, in a small city, we will almost certainly know other victims.

In terms of lives lost and economic damage, this will be New Zealand’s biggest ever natural disaster.

I am beginning to have some appreciation of how New Yorkers must have felt after 9/11.

If you are planning an overseas vacation in the next  year, please consider New Zealand. This is a beautiful country, with some of the friendliest people you will ever meet.

All parts of the country offer stunning scenery and great tourist activities, especially the central North Island and much of the South Island.

I’ve never met a tourist yet who didn’t love this country and this great city.

While Christchurch will struggle for awhile, we now have a chance to make this city even more beautiful. Don’t forget Christchurch, when you visit. We will recover from this. Services will be up and running in a few weeks  and we will look after you very well while you are here.

Thanks for all your supportive messages. Thanks for the generous help that has already flowed into our city.

Written on the verge of tears.

Trevor Loudon


Author: Admin

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29 thoughts on “Notes From a Disaster Zone

  1. Words escape me so i apologize in advance for my clumsy message … Christchurch is a wonderful place. New Zealand is the most beautiful place on Earth. I spent the vacation of a life time there. I will be back. I am saddened by the loss of life, by the injuries, the damages. But, Kiwis are amazing people. Hardy. AS difficult and painful as it will be, they will get through this. I have faith in you Kiwis. and you have my prayers.

    I wrote a little post about this on my blog.

    Pix of my time in NZ are here

  2. "Lots of people limit their possibilities by giving up easily. Never tell yourself this is too much for me. It's no use. I can't go on. If you do you're licked, and by your own thinking too. Keep believing and keep on keeping on."
    – Norman Vincent Peale

    God Bless you and all our prayers are with you..

  3. You, your family, and your beautiful country and fellow citizens remain in my prayers, as well as those of our church.

    What else can we do to help?

  4. I've lived in places where Nature can kill you with a tornado or hurricane, and I'm ok with that. Those you can see coming.

    The thought that an earthquake of sufficient magnitude can turn sedimentary soil into a liquid gives me the willies.

  5. Trevor, just to tell you how important you and your work have been to those of us who understand the danger we all face. We are so sorry about this catastrophe, and hold you and the others in Christchurch close in our thoughts and hearts.

    Julie in the U.S.

  6. Trevor, We will pray for your country tonight. I'm so sorry to hear of the suffering! You are very special to our family — we depend heavily on your website for truth! So sorry to hear about your travails in NZ… God bless you and your countrymen.
    Norma Ross

  7. I worked on Wall Street on 9/11 and experienced the attacks first hand…from 1/4 mile away. I commuted through the hole in the ground for the next 6 years.

    For us it was an attack and a disaster that was contained to a single, very large location. We were attacked and that was a large part of our trauma.

    You, however, have had your whole city destroyed. Everyone is directly affected. You all understand how fragile life is and how delicate and interdependent our economy is. You will also find a sense of togetherness that did not exist before. Be grateful for that and savor it.

    Know that you, your family, and your fellow kiwis are in our prayers.

    Also Trevor… you have more important things to do than write for your blog. I am sure that all of us will understand if you take some time off to help with the healing and rebuilding.

    George Hathaway
    New Jersey

  8. What a moving letter. I can't even imagine the heartbreak everyone is dealing with. Not to mention how challenging life has now become for everyone there. I will add the citizenry & specifically Ms. Giles to my rosary tomorrow. I know after my month long trip to NZ that you will rise to challenge. We love you & appreciate you!

  9. Trevor my prayers are with you guys. I finally got ahold of my family in Wellington. I love your country and I'm heartbroken at what has happened. I can't wait to come back there at Christmas. Stay safe!!!!

  10. Trevor,

    You, Christchurch, and New Zealand are all in my prayers.

    I have always wanted to visit New Zealand, it seems such a beautiful place and it has given me two things that I greatly appreciate — your blog and the music of Neil Finn (and Crowded House)!

  11. So many came to our aid in New Orleans ….I would like to contribute to a rebuilding fund for Christchurch. Have any suggestions? Best wishes to you and your nation.

  12. God bless you and your family and all New Zealanders during this very difficult time.

    I watched the videos on the blaze and I was saddened beyond words.

    Connie Bevan, USA

  13. hang in there Trevor, we'll get through this – and when I say "we" I mean New Zealand…

    All Americans felt 9/11 (unless you thought 9/11 was America's fault for some insane reason)…

    The difference is: Jihadists cause the pain to America while nature just gave Christchurch a slam.

    Should the whole huge swath of NZ which is impacted or could be impacted by quakes live elsewhere? No… C.Church will just have to rebuild: with better quake proof technology into their buildings…

    cheers mate and best to you and your family

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