Tuesday, 01 March 2011 16:09
Christchurch has stumbled but the rest of the world will hold its hands on its long journey back.
So commented Castlebar born Brian Dolan, a resident of the quake-devastated New Zealand city, when I phoned him from The Connaught Telegraph yesterday (Monday) morning.
Brian, a native of Knockthomas and Saleen, Castlebar, is a senior nursing executive, with his own company, now living in Christchurch having worked previously in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.
He was in Sydney, Australia, when a violent 6.3 earthquake struck Christchurch on Tuesday, February 22.
Following a text from a friend, he returned immediately to a scene of devastation.
Buildings had been toppled by the tremor with hundreds trapped under rubble and many dozens dead.Amongst those who lost their lives was Irishman Eoin McKenna, a man whom Brian Dolan knew 'both professionally and personally'.
Search and rescue personnel were brought in from other parts of New Zealand and also from Australia.
According to Brian, one in every three buildings in the city centre will have to be demolished.
He added: "It is very difficult to witness a particularly beautiful city being destroyed in a matter of seconds."
The 6.3 earthquake on February 22 was smaller than a 7.1 magnitude quake recorded in the area in September but the damage from the latter tremor has been extensive.
Recovery is going to be a long and harrowing process for the residents of Christchurch but Brian Dolan has no doubt but the city can rebuild itself and the citizens get over their trauma."The Kiwis are very much like the Irish," he observed. "There are four million of them and they have a strong sense of community."
Aftershocks have rolled across the area - some 5,000 since the first quake in September, 345 since the last one.
But residents of the ravaged city are stoic and cool about the continuing tremors."People hardly look up and pause now when the ground shakes. It is a matter of what you get used to."
One man Brian knows, however, an army man who has served in Afghanistan, does break into a cold sweat every time the ground shakes.
Every time a tremor hits the rumble reminds him of a mortar bomb exploding.