Two years ago today Christchurch suffered a magnitude 6.3 earthquake. Our hearts broke as we watched the events unfold. We saw the struggle to save lives and live through the aftermath. All of it for me though was through stories I heard and via the news.
I flew down to Christchurch this week for work. After the meeting my client offered to drive us to the airport and took us via the red zone in the central city. The scale of what happened to the garden city cannot be conveyed through photographs and television. Block after block after block in the central city is either empty, filled with rubble or cordoned off with the buildings waiting to be demolished. It is desolate.
Emergency teams from around the globe flew to Christchurch in the days after the quake to help. This building was checked by team TF1 on the 27 Feb (5 days after the quake) and was given the all clear "C". No-one was found in the building.
198 white chairs. One for every person who lost their life in the quake.
The beautiful cathedral
The steps of the Christchurch town hall.
My client then drove us through Avonside. Imagine the suburb you live in. Then imagine every single house in your suburb is condemned and the ground considered too unstable to rebuild on. The roads turned to gravel and the houses overgrown with trees and shrubs. It's like a ghost town and unbearably lonely.
The inside of the car was in stark contrast to what we saw on the outside. My client was resolute about staying in Christchurch and helping to rebuild. His language is peppered with hope and optimism. He talks about the hardships but also talks about the future.
I am so grateful that I got to see this. For me it's proof that people can face unbelievable tragedy and rise above it. Life goes on on Christchurch. People are filled with hope about the new city to come. As I face my personal tragedy I was so encouraged by the fortitude and courage that the people of Christchurch show.
Thank you Christchurch. I can't wait to see how beautiful you become.