Businesses reopen in central Christchurch

5:59 am on 12 September 2010

Shops have reopened in the centre of Christchurch after a week of being cordoned off in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Some of those at the tills in the Cashel St Mall on Saturday said that while losing money has been stressful, the psychological effects of not having a normal routine has been worse.

Others said they felt more relaxed in the city with other people around, especially when aftershocks rumble through.

Most of the inner city cordon has been lifted. Civil defence authorities say just one intersection remains closed - at the corner of Manchester St and Hereford St - where a historic seven-storey building is considered highly unstable.

Officials say the public must remain careful when going anywhere near the buildings that have red or yellow stickers taped on their doors.

Welfare centres in the city are still being used, with 208 people staying at the Addington centre on Friday night and another 58 at Linwood.

Power and water is restored to almost all homes, although there are problems with the waste water systems in some areas.

Thousands of buildings assessed

By nightfall on Friday, 4069 buildings across the city had been checked, and rechecked since Wednesday's severe aftershock.

In the central business district, 74% are safe, while 5% have red stickers indicating they are unsafe and require some engineering assistance and more assessment.

Of residential buildings, 86% are safe and just 1% have been given red stickers.

Earthquake Commission insurance manager Lance Dixon has said assessors are concentrating on the approximately 5500 uninhabitable houses across the Christchurch, Waimakariri and Selwyn districts and teams are being sent into the most damaged areas as quickly as possible.

Repair work continues

Work on repairing waste water systems and roads is continuing over the weekend.

In Kaiapoi, volunteers are to begin digging holes to test sewerage pipes on private properties most affected by soil liquefaction, as part of work to fully restore sewerage services to Kaiapoi.

Waimakariri District Council says the holes will be dug about one metre in from property boundaries, to assess any breaks or blockages between the homes and the mains pipes.

Sumner Road

Inspections of the rock face above Sumner Road, closed since Wednesday when a magnitude-5.1 aftershock loosened rocky outcrops, were due to begin on Saturday.

Contractors planned to carry out preparation work at the site before blasting to clear any dangerous rock begins on Monday.

Territorials boost army numbers

Territorial force personnel from throughout the South Island are travelling to Canterbury to help their regular force counterparts.

Spokesperson Colonel Roger McElwain says 370 soldiers are in and around Christchurch, stationed at cordons, and, in the Kaiapoi area, carrying out silt removal and engineering tasks.

Colonel McElwain says the navy has the support vessel Canterbury on standby and reserve staff are being deployed, while the Air Force has been transporting prisoners out of Christchurch.