There is a royal commission in progress investigating the Christchurch earthquakes and interesting tidbits of information are emerging. Today in the news I read about a submission which claims there ought to have been an investigation into hidden faults beneath Christchurch after the September quake. I wonder how much might have changed had this happened? Probably very little. They would never have found the fault which caused the February earthquake because it’s deep within the port hills and if they did find something large beneath the city itself would anything have actually happened in response?
What could they have done? They could have evacuated the entire city but given that Wellington sits on a fault much bigger than any Christchurch has seen and it is the capital of New Zealand with no sign of evacuation then this is very unlikely. Would they have demolished the 150 buildings so far approved for demolition or demolished already? The Wellington city council recently released a list of 170 earthquake-prone buildings in Wellington. The list can be found here http://www.unitedfuture.org.nz/dunne-lists-capital-earthquake-prone-buildings/ The owner of each building has been issued with a notice to strengthen their buildings and they have 10-20 years to get it done. This list was only released after the February earthquake in Christchurch and so very likely a result of that event. Auckland has 400 earthquake-prone buildings and I don’t see any demolition here. So I highly doubt the hazardous buildings would have been demolished. If anything, the building owners may have been given notices to improve seismic strengthening but this would have had a long time-frame and would certainly not have been complete by February 22nd.
I can’t imagine the discovery of a major fault beneath Christchurch would have changed anything except our knowledge. If anything, Cantabrians were feeling a little smug after the September quake. It was like this: “hey look everyone, we just had a Mag. 7.1 and no-one died”. It’s very easy in hindsight, now that we’ve experienced the February quake, to ask whether something should have been done but I remember the mood after September and people were largely convinced the worst was over.
Some good news: We can move into our new home on October 31st. We have to be gone from our rental by the 28th of October though which leaves just a few days of homelessness so we’re going away for a short holiday somewhere close to Auckland. I’m really excited about it. Not just the holiday part but having a few glorious days where we’re not tied down by rent or mortgage. It will be a ‘free’ holiday.