4 March 2011
Not many quakes today. It makes me almost more nervous to have this eerie quietness from the earth than to have the continuous small quakes. Makes you wonder if a larger aftershock might hit. But then again, the pattern of aftershocks is typically that the frequency declines with time and the magnitude declines as well, but more slowly.
There has been a general exodus of people from the city. Along with this has been a general request to the rest of the country to accept all the families moving to other cities (be it temporary or not) and all the children being enrolled in schools in other cities.
Today we went to the Red Cross to sign up for an emergency grant to those who have lost their homes. The refuge center was buzzing with activity. Many people signing up with the Red Cross, getting the emergency grant, getting food or petrol vouchers. And then there was the gymnasium with all the mattresses and the 600 or so people residing there. And the free food. It was, in a way, sad to see all that, especially the woman crouching down sobbing in a corner with several red cross workers trying to give her comfort. But it was good to see the support that the city is giving to us all.
We also went to visit our new landlords and sign the rental agreement. It is normally about a 20 minute drive but it takes about an hour to get there. Traffic was just snarled. Many areas were very dusty, with pedestrians and bicyclists wearing masks, many going faster than the cars. Most of the piles of liquefaction silt have been removed, but some are left, and most streets are still covered in a thin layer of the silt. Also, when driving down any of the roads, I have to keep an eye on the state of the road and veer around the humps and dips in the asphalt, the holes, and ponds of water from leaking pipes, and the odd pile of liquefaction silt. It's deceptive, because some of the streets are fine and then suddenly a damaged street catches you off guard.
I also learned today that the wife of a good friend at work has given birth prematurely. The baby is almost 7 weeks early. There were many premature births after the September quake and there will be lot following this one, due to the added stress of the quakes. Tomorrow we will make an attempt to visit her and the baby in the hospital, but that will be difficult as it is near the downtown area and not far from the no-go zone.
Water is now flowing ok in our house, although the shower did not seem to work, due to the low pressure. We cannot drink the water or even brush your teeth with it so in a way, it is only partly useful. We can now use a washing machine and wash dishes with it, perhaps. Luxuries to us now. We dream of the day we can take a drink directly from the faucet.
Click here to read Part Nine.