Sue Wells – The New Canterbury Tales

March 9, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — Sue Wells @ 6:20 pm

This was my day off. That means housework. I hate housework. I’ll do anything to avoid it.

So when Richard Tyson from Verified Computers rang to let me know he was going to try to get access to the red zone to get the servers out of Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti School, it seemed like the perfect excuse.

Richard had all the appropriate documentation. Only problem is the school is right in the centre of the drop zone. It’s not a good idea being in there. Not at all. That’s why I didn’t try to go in with him.

The Art Gallery was a sea of high vis vests, Japanese media, and scientologists doing back massages. Yup – I’m serious. Place is bizarre right now. That’s where we spent the day. We got there at around 10. It was after 3 before Richard got in.

Richard got clearance from the building recovery team, the CDEMG team at local level, the fire service, the police, the USAR team. He needed a CPENG qualified engineer to sign off the building. There is a reason why that was necessary. It was beautifully demonstrated around thirty minutes before he went in. I think it was a 4.5. It shook the entire art gallery. Shouldn’t have looked up. Noticed a bloody great pole anchored between the ceiling (mildly munted) and a scissor lift.

And in between each sign off, we waited. We sat, we waited patiently and politely. I gave hugs to all my many colleagues working so hard in there. We waited some more. If you’ve ever shot a movie it’s the same. A short burst of activity – then you wait. And at any stage, you know the answer could well be “no.” This was to get essential data that the school needs to regain its ability to educate our kids. They aren’t kidding about this stuff. It is not toy-town in there.

To get into the centre you need to be getting very particular items. Body recovery is still top priority. Medical, legal, educational data. That’s it. Nothing frilly. That’s because every time a team goes in they are putting their lives at risk. If they’re in there at the wrong time, more people die. Simple as that.

The 45 minutes Richard spent in there with that team was something I would not want to repeat again. I would rather let my dentist loose on my mouth with no anaesthetic than go through that. Sickening feeling.

I reckon he’s one brave man. Clearly stupid, but brave. 🙂 Not stupid, but even braver, are the USAR teams. the men and women from all over the world who are working in that environment every day. They are nothing short of heroes. I am so grateful to them all. Words cannot begin to express how much we owe them.

Or as my #1 son put it when Richard dropped me back home and sat down for a well earned cold beer – “Oh cool. You got the servers. Did you get the DJ gear too?”


I took a picture of the servers, and of Chris and Richard. Chris is the one in the superman shirt. As Gary Watts commented on my facebook page, it’s nice to see Superman in town at the moment. My reply to him is superman is everywhere in town at the moment. And for Mark Inglis to “like” that post – well, that’s saying something.

Doing well Christchurch. Stronger, better, more beautiful than ever before.

Keeping the faith.


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