After the quakes

New Zealand

The New Zealand city of Christchurch shook violently on four days between September 4, 2010, and December 23 2011.  And after each of those major quakes, the city then shuddered and trembled thousands of times more in the aftershocks - and these still rumble softly, underground.

In the most devastating earthquake on February 22, 2011, 185 people died and most of the central business district buildings tumbled. The city is still being demolished, to make way for the big rebuild. In the suburbs, 8,000 people lost their homes and communities for good, as sections of the city will be forever uninhabitable. Having dropped down by as much as 1.5metres, many river front suburbs are at too great a risk of flooding - the cliff-side suburbs at too great a risk of rock fall.

But the quiet human impacts are harder to quantify. They’re measured in the many individual ways locals have for dealing with it:  Only parking in the open air. Never going into basements.  Jumping with a rush of adrenalin when ‘it’s just a truck’ rumbles past.  Squeezing the children that little bit closer, before releasing them to each day of school.

We visit Christchurch 2 years on to examine the psychological anatomy of an ongoing natural disaster, as the third winter sets in.

Publication Details