Monday, September 13, 2010

Earthquake effects and use of technology to keep up to date with aftershocks

Finally back at work, after a week. The impacts of the Canterbury earthquake, 7.1 richter scale, early on 4/9 will still be felt many months into the future. All well, as my home on the North West of the city, is build on relatively stable and solid river gravel. The house had an almighty shake but came through without any damage. I, along with most Christchurch residents will be forever grateful for the foresight of city engineers who set up earthquake proofing legislation just after the Napier Earthquake of 1931.

CPIT, which is situated in the city, came through relatively unscathed. Just a few broken windows. Even the shelves in our library stayed up, when compared to the ones in the University of Canterbury library. The CPIT library shelves were braced top and bottom, there were books on the floor but no toppled shelves.

I got in to work early on Wednesday and experienced the 5.1 after shock just before 8 am as I just finished clearing my emails. Headed under my desk as it was a very hard shake but apart from some white stuff falling from the ceiling, everything kept together. CPIT was closed soon after and I wended my way home on my bike, taking the opportunity to have a look around the areas of the city not condoned off. Many older brick buildings have collapsed and there was rubble strewn through some streets.

Back at work on Friday, where there were a few, relatively smaller aftershocks. CPIT staff who were at work were briefed on plans for the coming week when students would return to class, including a thorough briefing on what to do in the event of a large aftershock.

The week away from work provided me with time to complete final edit of my theses (yeah). Also catch up on reading for the ‘perspectives of first year apprentices project’ and draft the report / guidelines for the ‘multimodal study of apprentice learning’ project. So all, in a good opportunity to have some ‘contemplation’ time and to catch up on things which never get done on my to do list. In particular, to review my research journals to work out anything I might have missed, forgot to do or need to still catch up on.

After the 4/9 event, we had no power for almost 8 hours. I had to resort to using our one and only transistor radio which did not have very good reception, and our neighbours’ reports, to keep up with what was happening in the city. Once the power was up, the internet and TV provided good information. There was a flurry of emails and telephone calls from overseas, concerned at the damage my relatives / friends had seen on the news. It has become a very small world indeed. An article in the local papers reports on how everyone is now a journalist as facebook, twitter and bloggers provide updated news on aftershocks, damage and other events. We have been checking the GNS Geonet site after each aftershock to guage intensity. Generally, I feel most above 4 at home but the need to be at least 4.5 to be felt at work.

Aftershocks have now decreased in intensity and frequency, so hopefully, things have settled down. The experience sure reminds you what the important things in life are, family, friends, neighbours and pets, all living, breathing, cuddly entities.