It feels like Feb 21, 2011

WILL HARVIE
Last updated 16:32 21/12/2012

Who remembers February 21, 2011?

Despite months of aftershocks and the worries of quake scientists, I remember thinking that our shaking experience was largely over. I was complacent - and so were most Cantabrians.

The third week of February comes to mind because I've been reading the recently released Canterbury earthquakes royal commission report on unreinforced masonry buildings (URMs) that caused 42 fatalities on Feb 22.

It's grim reading, but worthwhile if only to bear witness.

So here's the final word on the death of Ross Bush, a friend and former neighbour, who died at 7 Riccarton Rd.

A ''dilapidated'' URM building occupied by a used bookstore collapsed onto Ross  as he sat inside his car. 

The building - more than 100 years old - had been yellow-stickered after the September 2010 quake, but improperly given a green sticker on shonky advice from named people.

Here too is Ady Lindsay, the accounts clerk at The Press who died at work.

I didn't know her, but she'll always be near the heart of my quake memories.

The Royal Commission found there should have been ''more extensive consideration of the likely load that would come onto [a] wall in the event of a significant earthquake''.

This is mild criticism compared to the errors, negligence, perfidy and should-be criminal behaviour of some building inspectors and owners in Christchurch, according to my read of the Royal Commission report.

There were cordons inside the old Press building (ie: rooms that couldn't entered) and I thought was acceptable.

It wasn't and if anybody is still occupying a building with internal cordons, get out.

Most of the unreinforced masonry buildings in Christchurch have now been demolished or remain cordoned off, but there are a thousand or more structures in the province that are compromised and many of us have grown complacent about the risks.

I mean our homes. Twenty-two months after the damaging quake, few homes with significant damage have been repaired.

They might not have red or yellow stickers, but they are potentially dangerous in another big quake.

GeoNet says there is a 67 per cent probability of a M5.0 to M5.4 shake between today and Dec 21, 2013 and 9 per cent probability of M6.0 and M6.4 in the next year.

These could be anywhere between Hororata, parts of Banks Peninsula, Lincoln and Kaiapoi.

But if a big one strikes directly beneath your address, will your damaged home hurt someone who is in the wrong place?

Have you reassessed the risk recently? Has there been change since EQC or private insurers inspected? Is any bracing still effective?

It feels like Feb 21 and I'm going home to take a hard look around.

- The Press

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