OCEANIA/NEW ZEALAND - One year after the first earthquake, the situation is still serious

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Christchurch (Agenzia Fides) - Three devastating earthquakes and more than 7 000 aftershocks continue to unsettle many residents in what is known as the "Garden City". September 4, was the first anniversary of the devastating 7.1 earthquake, known as "Canterbury earthquake", "Christchurch earthquake" or "Darfield earthquake", which devastated the southern part of New Zealand. After a year much of the central business district is still closed for business and scores of buildings have been demolished, many of them classified as "Historical". This is what Fr. Paul Shannahan, MS, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in New Zealand reports to Fides. On anniversary day the Summer Parish held a service.
Fr. Paul Shannahan said that "the situation is not improving", and the famous Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, built in 1905, will certainly be demolished since the insurance cover on the building has not been renewed for its reconstruction. In addition, over 12 000 domestic homes have been completely condemned and owners are scrambling to find sections on which to rebuild. For some it has meant leaving the city as land values are too high, while thousands of residents have moved permanently to surrounding cities and towns. Many have been unable to purchase land or new homes, as they have had to wait for a pay out from either an insurance company or the Government, none of which will fully compensate for their loss.
Many areas are not to be rebuilt on because of danger unstable ground, continues father Shannahan. Streets and sewage lines await repairing. Much of the western side of the city is largely intact, but for those living on the earthquake faults in the east life remains a worry and a struggle. "It will take a long time for Christchurch to recover its charm and the title of the 'Garden City', and even longer for Bishop. Barry Jones, the Bishop of Christchurch, to see restored so many churches, schools and Catholic institutions", concludes Father Shannahan. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 06/09/2011)