View over Christchurch after September 2010 earthquake

Damage was more extensive to infrastructure and buildings after 22 February than after September and the cityscape would never be the same again. Shocking images of fallen cladding and bricks, structurally damaged buildings, large cracks in the ground and landslides. Central city buildings held their markers of being checked by USAR, and then as assessment of buildings were undertaken and given red, yellow or green labels. Over 1,200 commercial buildings and 10,000 homes were so badly damaged that they required demolition.

Earthquake damage, High Street

Damage to retail buildings on High Street. Shops shown include Burgers and Beers as well as boutique clothing stores Embassy, and Plush. All cordoned off for safety. Collapsed ceiling is visible...

The central city redzone was created on the 22 February as a public exclusion zone, with residents only being allowed to stay if their home was assessed as safe and not within the fallzone of damaged neighbouring buildings. The army and passing cordon checks became part of everyday life for these residents.

Cashel Street view
Cashel Street view

In the skyline the Hotel Grand Chancellor showed one side slumping and it was feared that it could collapse due to an aftershock and take out surrounding buildings. A two block radius was evacuated. It was stabilised before eventually being demolished.

Cracks in walls and the ground appeared during the earthquake and continuous aftershocks. Large cracks in the ground created a hazard that needed to be avoided. Some received more novel 'caution' signs than others, like a supermarket trolley or a handwritten sign.

Some demolition was begun immediately in conjunction with stabilising buildings with bracing. Damaged chimneys posed a particular ongoing threat as the aftershocks continued.