Life on the edge of a raw nerve

02:00, Jan 17 2012
500 days

Cantabrians have endured 500 days of rattled nerves.

Today marks one year, four months and 13 days since the magnitude-7.1 earthquake struck near Darfield at 4.35am on September 4, 2010.

More than 3000 quakes of magnitude 3.0 or above have hit the region in the 12,000 hours that have passed, meaning a shake has been felt somewhere in the aftershock zone every four hours on average.

Canterbury Communities' Earthquake Recovery Network spokeswoman Leanne Curtis said that with the February 22 quake anniversary next month, the milestone was a timely reminder that some residents had been battling a long time.

"When you count it in days, it doesn't seem so long ago, but when I think of 16 months, I think we should be further down the [recovery] track," she said.

Five hundred days was a long time for those who had "been out of their houses and are still out".


"They will have felt every single one of those 500 days and every one would have felt like two days. It's a long time to be in a traumatic place and have no end to the uncertainty," she said.

Curtis, who lost her Avonside home, said it was important to acknowledge those affected in the September 2010 quake.

"A lot of people who started in September feel like everything started from zero again with February and almost denied the fact that people had already done five months of crap, pretty much."

Her expectation "499 days ago" was that the recovery would be "done and dusted".

"I remember six months ago thinking, 'Now we've checked in with EQC [Earthquake Commission], it'll just go from here'. That was a bit of a joke. Nothing just went," she said.

"There have been so many events – earthquakes, land announcements, insurance or whatever – that people are just getting out now. For a lot of people, it'll feel like things are going backwards, not forwards."

The lack of certainty on recovery time frames continued to frustrate people, Curtis said.

"We still don't know how long it's going to take. We might have at least expected to have known [by now], to have been able to plan and know where we're going, but that's not necessary there either, even for those who have been red-zoned."

The Press