2 March 2011 INDEX

Letter from New Zealand
Dear Jonathan,

Thanks for the email.

For me things are improving. I managed to find a garage who tested my car for me so I could get a warrant. Without a warrant the car is not insured. The warrant had expired on the 23rd Feb. day after the earthquake. The roads are like switchbacks and many areas are fenced off. I can't get my mail from my local post box.

I had a damaged water pipe under the road outside the entrance to my drive, so only had a dribble of water. Yesterday some men came around and dug up the road and fixed the pipe. The water pressure is better but water must be boiled.

Unfortunately there is a dry Canterbury nor'west wind today up to 130kph. This is blowing the piles of liquifaction waiting to be collected by the council around. It turns from heavy, wet, grey, sludge to dry dust and people are wearing face masks. The city was built on a swamp. 98 thousand tonnes of liquifaction collected so far.

Number of deaths so far 159.

Most of the old Gothic buildings have crumbled. Our Iconic Anglican Cathedral in the central square lost its tower and tourists on the viewing platform were killed. They are only just able to search the Cathedral by pouring concrete into the base and building reinforcing structures against the walls. One building our local Canterbury television building collapsed like a pack of cards. In the building were other facilities like foreign language schools, which resulted in young overseas students from Japan and the Philippines being killed. Including the television staff members. A friend of mine lost her 31 year old son who had recently become engaged. He worked for CTV. So there are some very sad stories.

Still many people without electricity and water. Port-a-loos in those streets without toilet facilities. I went out in the car this morning, although they are asking people not to go out unless necessary. I get a monthly blood test, so went to the med.lab. which was open. Had to walk part of the way in the dust.

We have 10,000 Uni. volunteer students with spades and wheel barrows clearing the liquifaction into piles on the road, waiting for the Council to collect and take to the Burwood landfill. It is a foot deep in some gardens. They work in shifts. Many people from out popular seaside resort of Sumner have been evacuated. Rocks have fallen on their houses and the cliffs are collapsing.

Many houses built on hills for the view. The eastern suburbs are in a bad way, parts of which will probably not be built on again.

Our city leaders are doing a wonderful job. Underground electricity cables badly damaged. I can see we will go back to overhead lines as they have survived much better. Our sewage is going out to sea. Yak. No swimming or going near rivers.

The overseas rescue teams I cannot give them enough praise. A team arrived from the UK. Don't know where the city would be without them. They give us hope. The central business district is still out of bounds, in a very bad state. Like a war zone.

We have a very competitive sporting relationship with Oz but when either of us is in need we are there for each other. We have Aussie police here as well as a rescue team.

One exciting thing happened when the statue of one of our city fathers John Robert Godley collapsed and two capsules were found in the plinth it stood on. They were taken to the museum. One in a glass bottle which broke and one in a metal container, which is intact. The parchment in the glass bottle has to be treated. Not sure when we will know what is written on the parchment.

I may go down to Waimate for a few days respite on the 18th March. My sister and her husband are still staying with their daughter the other side of Ch.Ch. but I can't get over there at the moment.

2 March 2011 INDEX Jonathan Brind