Bill Davey fears Christchurch earthquake will haunt city forever

I am writing less than 24 hours since the 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch – the second severe quake to hit the city within six months – and its hard to believe.

Although not as powerful as the 7.1 September quake, its epicentre was just 5km (3 miles) deep, not 33km (20.5 miles), hence the destruction has been far greater.

Television news coverage goes on uninterrupted throughout the day and it’s still unclear exactly how many people have lost their lives. So very sad and so unfair, it struck just as Christchurch and its people were starting to rebuild the city and their confidence in living there. I doubt the Garden City will ever be the same again.

I was having my lunch at the time in our kitchen when the quake struck. The whole house and grounds started shuddering violently, doors started swinging and I dashed outside to see waves on the swimming pool lapping over onto the lawn. Trees and shrubs were shaking wildly and I have to say I was very frightened.

My wife Lynda was in a supermarket when bottles and tins started falling off the shelves. People were screaming, some laying on the floor close to aisles in fear of falling debris. She was terrified. I could tell by her voice when she rang my mobile.

Harvest is becoming a very stop-start affair with a moisture-bearing north-easterley wind refusing to budge. Wheat moisture content has been dropping to about 15.5% by about 5pm, but not the magical 14.5% required. My patience ran out, so I made enquiries about the availability of drying facilities. Fortunately, a close neighbour had some spare capacity so all the wheat is now safely in store.

It’s hard to estimate yields accurately at this stage, but I expect cereals in general to be back at about 20% compared to last year.


Farmer Focus Arable: Bill Davey


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