Monday, May 02, 2011

Around the Neighbourhood

This is the carpark of our local shopping centre - now scheduled for demolition. This rather large slump in the ground has filled with rainwater, and the gulls were enjoying themselves when I went past. They also have a rather large sandbank nearby, so it is quite beachlike!

Businesses have had various approaches to the earthquake, some more useful than others. This I felt was one of the better responses - offering those who don't have transport, particularly the elderly, the chance to get their shopping done, while helping provide customers to a supermarket that is in an area now rather short of traffic due to the inner city restrictions.

The fence on the riverbank near us was constructed of about thirty foot long steel girders. It was interesting watching them being put in place. The river bank was slumping bit by bit, endangering not only the road but also the water and sewer pipes beneath the road. It was a practical response but I hope, not a permanent one as it's a bit ugly.

The footbridge damage is not obvious in this photo, but it has completely broken off its supporting pillar at one end. Pedestrians were going back and forth over it without incident for a week or two before it was fenced off. I imagine it is quite low in the queue to be fixed, cars coming before pedestrians.

I've been asked by a few people about our chimney. The roof has been made watertight by workmen sent by EQC (the government earthquake insurance agency). The gap where the chimney was has had replacement steel tiles put in place, which almost but not quite match the existing tiles. The gap in the eaves where the chimney came crashing through has also been mended, with replacement panelling in the soffit, replacement spouting and replacement roof tiles (there may also have been a beam or two that needed patching at the end). Any further repairs are waiting on a full assessment.

There is a priority system for repairing chimneys for those for whom it was their main heat source - especially the sick or elderly. We don't really qualify for the priority queue as we have other heating although not in the same room - an electric heat pump in our dining/living area and another in the room my husband uses as an office. In the living room where the fireplace is, we will have to use a portable electric heater or in an emergency, a portable gas heater. (Power cuts are likely this winter, as the whole electricity system is "cobbled together with extension leads" at the moment). Technically, open fires are no longer allowed to be used in Christchurch anyway. So the replacement programme allows for an alternative heat system to be installed - a heat pump or approved log burner, for instance.

Despite the bylaw banning open fires (due to clean air regulations) no one is to be prosecuted this winter for using them. Presumably because of the overload on the electricty system. However, the public are strongly advised to get their chimneys checked before use, even if apparently undamaged. I saw the consequences of not doing so today. On my way to work, I passed a house with a gaping hole in the roof around the chimney, exposing charred roof beams. Presumably, they ignored or hadn't heard the advice. A hard lesson to learn.

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