A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about natural disasters

Christchurch "Quake City"

The City still struggling to recover

overcast 14 °C
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My original plan included a couple of extra days in Christchurch (often described as "the most English City outside England") so I could visit the Antarctic Centre at the airport and go whale watching from Kaikoura up the coast. However Christchurch was hit by a 7.1 earthquake in November 2010 followed by a 6.3 aftershock in February 2011 and when I arrived and saw how devastated the city still was I knew the focus of this entry was going to be very different.

It was the city centre and especially the older stone buildings that bore the brunt of the quake and 2 years on most of them have been or are in the process of being demolished, replaced by wasteland car parks while the authorities decide what to replace them with. Much of the city centre is cordoned off "red zone" still considered too dangerous for the public to enter with scaffolding, traffic cones, cranes and men in hi-vis bibs with safety hats everywhere.

Typical street in Christchurch City Centre (the Police HQ is on the left)

Typical street in Christchurch City Centre (the Police HQ is on the left)


Typical street in Christchurch City Centre (the Public Library is on the right)

Typical street in Christchurch City Centre (the Public Library is on the right)


Damaged Church beside the River Avon in Christchurch

Damaged Church beside the River Avon in Christchurch


Fenced off Shopping Centre in the centre of Christchurch

Fenced off Shopping Centre in the centre of Christchurch


Notice on a condemned building

Notice on a condemned building

The hub of the city was Cathedral Square but it remains out of bounds apart from a recently opened viewing area. The Cathedral's 206 feet (63 metre) spire was one of the headline casualties of the quake and they are currently building a transitional "cardboard" cathedral to provide a temporary place of worship with an expected lifespan of about 20 years.

Cathedral Square is still out-of-bounds to traffic

Cathedral Square is still out-of-bounds to traffic


Christchurch's Cathedral Square, the scaffolding on the right is the only evidence left of the famous spire

Christchurch's Cathedral Square, the scaffolding on the right is the only evidence left of the famous spire


The transitional cardboard cathedral under construction

The transitional cardboard cathedral under construction


Model of the proposed cardboard transitional cathedral in Quake City - the Christchurch Earthquake Experience

Model of the proposed cardboard transitional cathedral in Quake City - the Christchurch Earthquake Experience

Christchurch is New Zealand's 2nd largest city but after the earthquakes there is still very little life in the city centre, I was there for 4 nights and finding shops, somewhere to eat or drink was almost impossible. Also with all the construction workers in town the only accommodation available was in hostel dormitories with very basic amenities even by hostel standards. In an attempt to bring life back to the city centre a shopping mall out of shipping containers has been constructed in what had once been one of the main shopping streets. The brightly coloured Re:START Mall on Cashel Street has now become a tourist attraction in its own right but it is still very quiet for a city the size of Christchurch.

The Re:START Mall on Cashel Street

The Re:START Mall on Cashel Street


Shops at the Re:START Mall

Shops at the Re:START Mall


More shops at the Re:START Mall

More shops at the Re:START Mall


Quake City - the Christchurch Earthquakes Experience in the Re:START Mall

Quake City - the Christchurch Earthquakes Experience in the Re:START Mall

Included in the Re:START Mall is Quake City, described as "the Christchurch Earthquakes Experience". It includes iconic objects that fell during the quakes such as the cathedral bell and spire as well as recalling many personal stories and the actions of the rescue teams from around the world. It also explains what liquefaction is which is what happened in the suburbs while buildings were collapsing in the city centre.

Bottles on display in Quake City of a one-off beer (called After Shock) created by a local brewery following the 7.1 quake in November 2010

Bottles on display in Quake City of a one-off beer (called After Shock) created by a local brewery following the 7.1 quake in November 2010


The fallen spire from the Cathedral on display in Quake City

The fallen spire from the Cathedral on display in Quake City


Photo on display in Quake City showing the aftermath of liquefaction in the suburbs

Photo on display in Quake City showing the aftermath of liquefaction in the suburbs


The cathedral bell and other artifacts in Quake City

The cathedral bell and other artifacts in Quake City


Speakers Chair from the Council Chamber on display in Quake City

Speakers Chair from the Council Chamber on display in Quake City

Posted by FrancisRTW 03:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged churches buildings museums markets beer city solo hostelling earthquakes natural_disasters nz_south_island Comments (0)

Solvang and the return south

The delightful Danish town of Solvang, brush fire smoke and the infamous 'four-oh-five' freeway

sunny 32 °C
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The following day we continued our return south towards Los Angeles diverting slightly to stop for a couple of hours to look around Solvang. Solvang (translates as 'sunny fields' in Danish) was founded in 1911 by a group of Danes who bought a 9,000 acre (3,600 hectare) ranch next to the historic Santa Ines Mission in the Santa Ynez Valley with the aim of creating a Danish colony away from the severe winters they suffered in the US Mid West.

Classic street view of Solvang

Classic street view of Solvang


Entrance to the Old Mission in Solvang

Entrance to the Old Mission in Solvang

The Old Mission in Solvang

The Old Mission in Solvang

Solvang with its unique half-timbered architecture, colourful potted plants and 'little Denmark' ambiance has become a major tourist attraction with over a million visitors every year. There are several restaurants and pastry shops serving Danish specialities, a Hans Christen Andersen Museum celebrating his fables together with a copy of Copenhagen's Mermaid's Fountain and 1:3 scale copy of the Rundetarn (Round Tower).

A colourful Danish restaurant in Solvang

A colourful Danish restaurant in Solvang


The Solvang Rundetarn (Round Tower)

The Solvang Rundetarn (Round Tower)


The Mermaid's Fountain in Solvang

The Mermaid's Fountain in Solvang


Tivoli Square in Solvang

Tivoli Square in Solvang


Solvang Bell Tower

Solvang Bell Tower

However probably the biggest attraction are the town's Danish windmills; although we didn't see all of them I counted at least half a dozen on the map dotted amongst the town's streets. All in all Solvang was a delightful little town well worth the visit.

Close up of the Windmill on Alisal Road in Solvang

Close up of the Windmill on Alisal Road in Solvang


The windmill in Hamlet Square

The windmill in Hamlet Square


The windmill on Mission Drive is now part of a brewery!

The windmill on Mission Drive is now part of a brewery!

We then descended from the mountains back on to the freeway only to be confronted by the smoke from a large bush fire that threatened to block our route south back to Los Angeles. Because of the way the wind direction changes near the coast one minute the sky was relatively clear while the next minute there was a very distinct layer of smoke above us.

Brush fire smoke begins to darken the skyline

Brush fire smoke begins to darken the skyline


Brush fire smoke above Port Hueneme

Brush fire smoke above Port Hueneme


Brush fire smoke billowing in the distance

Brush fire smoke billowing in the distance


The brush fire threatens to close the highway

The brush fire threatens to close the highway

Fortunately the brush fire didn't cross the Freeway to cut our route back like it threatened to do at one point but we still had to travel down the notorious interstate 'four-oh-five' freeway to get through Los Angeles, the busiest and most congested freeway in the USA. What we had hoped would be a two hour drive turned out to be four hours plus with bumper to bumper traffic. Although little consolation while we were stuck in heavy traffic we did see the Goodyear Blimp (Airship) take off from close by the freeway.

Traffic jam on Los Angeles' infamous Interstate 'four-oh-five' Freeway

Traffic jam on Los Angeles' infamous Interstate 'four-oh-five' Freeway


Wall to wall traffic on the I405 Freeway going through Los Angeles

Wall to wall traffic on the I405 Freeway going through Los Angeles


The Goodyear Blimp takes off near the I405 Freeway

The Goodyear Blimp takes off near the I405 Freeway


The Goodyear Blimp

The Goodyear Blimp

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged churches california windmills danish missions mexican natural_disasters airship Comments (0)

The Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy

Punch drunk holiday coast desperately trying to get on its feet again after being hit hard by nature

overcast 25 °C
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New Jersey is best known for the seaside resorts along its Atlantic Coast affectionately known as "the Shore". I'd seen Cape May the Southern Jersey Shore the previous week and it was now time for me to see the northern part of the Shore around Asbury Park and Ocean Grove popular with New Yorkers.

We began our trip to the northern shore with a visit to Ocean Grove which was founded as a summer camp for Methodists in 1869. Preachers and concerts are still held in its famous 6,250 seat Great Auditorium built in 1894 which has an 11,558 pipe organ centre stage, one of the 20 largest pipe organs in the world. A 4,000 foot square foot section of the roof was torn off in a single piece by Hurricane Sandy on 28th October 2012 but miraculously didn't damage any other part of the building or anything around it. The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on the Jersey Shore was to become a growing theme of our visit.

The statue of Ellwood H Stokes and the Great Auditorium at Ocean Grove

The statue of Ellwood H Stokes and the Great Auditorium at Ocean Grove


Inside the Great Auditorium with its world famous pipe organ centre stage

Inside the Great Auditorium with its world famous pipe organ centre stage

Surrounding the Great Auditorium are 114 historic tents echoing back to when the summer camps first started. Packed away each winter they are re-erected and available for rent May to October - although there is a 10 year waiting list!

Some of the 114 historic tents surrounding the Great Auditorium at Ocean Grove

Some of the 114 historic tents surrounding the Great Auditorium at Ocean Grove


A close up of some of the historic tents surrounding the Great Auditorium

A close up of some of the historic tents surrounding the Great Auditorium

From Ocean Grove we walked over to nearby Asbury Park on the coast; at the northern end of the broadwalk there was a group of sorry looking buildings including an empty fairground carousel and casino. Their derelict condition predated Hurricane Sandy and was due to Asbury Park no longer being able to attract as many vacationers as it use to in its hehday of the 1940s and 1950s.

The Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel, Casino and Old Heating Plant at Asbury Park

The Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel, Casino and Old Heating Plant at Asbury Park


Close up of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel

Close up of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel


The derelict casino at Asbury Park

The derelict casino at Asbury Park

Making our way south along the boardwalk we reached Asbury Park's Grand Arcade and 3,600 seat Convention Hall built in the early 1920s. It was here on the 8th September 1934 that the luxury ocean liner SS Morro Castle came to rest on a sandbar a few yards off the Convention Hall after catching fire returning to New York from Havana, a disaster in which 137 died.

The broadwalk entrance to the Asbury Park Grand Arcade and Convention Hall

The broadwalk entrance to the Asbury Park Grand Arcade and Convention Hall


Inside the Grand Arcade at Asbury Park

Inside the Grand Arcade at Asbury Park


Monument to the victims of the SS Morro Castle disaster in 1934

Monument to the victims of the SS Morro Castle disaster in 1934


The end of the Convention Hall where the disaster happened

The end of the Convention Hall where the disaster happened

Moving on from the Grand Arcade there was a lovely beach and a freshly restored broadwalk after being damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Once known as the "Jewel of the Shore" there was little evidence of the amusement arcades, food outlets and gift shops I had anticipated lining the broadwalk after visiting the Southern Jersey Shore the previous week.

The beach at Asbury Park

The beach at Asbury Park


The broadwalk at Asbury Park

The broadwalk at Asbury Park

While the Southern Shore feels like an endless amusement arcade what Asbury Park is famous for are its music venues and for being the home of a genre of pre-Beatles rock and roll and pre-Motown rhythm and blues music known as Jersey Shore Sound that was in vogue from the late 1960s until the mid 1980s. Examples of major artists of the Jersey Shore Sound are local boy Bruce Springsteen and early music from Jon Bon Jovi. Most famous of Asbury Park's music venues is the unassuming Stone Pony where many of the exponents of the Jersey Sound began their musical careers.

The entrance to the Stone Pony music venue at Asbury Park

The entrance to the Stone Pony music venue at Asbury Park

While there had been evidence of damage by Hurricane Sandy in Ocean Grove and Asbury Park nothing could prepare me for the devastation that greeted us as we drove further south along the coast to Mantoloking which had been especially hard hit. Two dozen oceanfront houses completely disappeared from their foundations during the hurricane and more than 50 others had to be demolished (10% of the housing stock).

Houses damaged by Hurricane Sandy in Mantoloking

Houses damaged by Hurricane Sandy in Mantoloking


Only the ground floor remains of this house in Mantoloking

Only the ground floor remains of this house in Mantoloking


House destroyed by Hurricane Sandy at Mantoloking

House destroyed by Hurricane Sandy at Mantoloking


Only rumble remains of these two houses at Mantoloking

Only rumble remains of these two houses at Mantoloking

There were piles of rubble, security fencing and construction plant everywhere in Mantoloking and in many ways it reminded me of the earthquake redzone in Christchurch I'd seen earlier in my trip. 37 people lost their lives in New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy, having seen the biblical proportions of the damage in Mantoloking the death toll could have easily have been higher if the area had not been evacuated beforehand.

House on wheels following Hurricane Sandy

House on wheels following Hurricane Sandy


Looting checkpoint notice at Mantoloking

Looting checkpoint notice at Mantoloking


Another badly damaged house following Hurricane Sandy

Another badly damaged house following Hurricane Sandy


House on stilts following Hurricane Sandy

House on stilts following Hurricane Sandy

From Mantoloking we carried on south to the seaside resort of Seaside Heights (location for the MTV Show "Jersey Shore" which I can't say I've watched) with its amusement arcade lined broadwalk more akin to those I'd seen in Wildwood further south the previous week. However unlike the South Shore Seaside Heights was badly hit by Hurricane Sandy with much of its Casino Pier collapsing into the sea and currently being rebuilt and its Broadwalk either newly restored or currently being reconstructed after much of the sand underneath it was washed inshore.

The broadwalk at Seaside Heights

The broadwalk at Seaside Heights


Closed broadwalk while Casino Pier is rebuilt at Seaside Heights

Closed broadwalk while Casino Pier is rebuilt at Seaside Heights


Another view of the pier repairs underway at Seaside Heights

Another view of the pier repairs underway at Seaside Heights


Broadwalk repairs underway north of Seaside Heights

Broadwalk repairs underway north of Seaside Heights

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged beaches churches theme_parks natural_disasters us_east_coast Comments (0)

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