He volunteered to go in and help retrieve important items, like the Father's Day gift the children gave him last year (a cup with disappearing photos), his umbrella and his new glasses case, as well as a long list of items from his colleagues. It read a bit like this.... "in the second drawer down, in the back on the right is....." They were given 3 hours to get what they needed out of there, as well as files and computers and other work-related items. They are not sure what is going to happen to their building. It has no visible damage, but the building next to it has a very precarious lift tower which could collapse on top of their office building. And the ground under the buildings is pretty torn up. It's situated very close to the Avon River which pretty much undermined all the ground around it during the Quake. You see, our ancestors built the city on marshy, reclaimed ground back in the early 1800's. I guess they didn't know about the faultlines then.
The event of going into the forbidden parts of the city was a highly orchestrated event, according to Robin. Security checks, photo identification and an escorted drive through the area to their building where they were accompanied by Recovery Staff into their office. The first thing that struck Robin was the silence.
Absolute quiet as they stepped out of the cars. No people, no cars, no noise.
He described going into the office like visiting a ghost town, and it had a musty, mouldy, dank smell inside. In the staffroom books were open on the table, a newspaper lay like someone had just left it just for a moment. A lunchbag, biscuits open in the middle of the table. Coffee grounds in the coffee machine had gone mouldy. Food from the fridge had spilled out onto the floor. A loaf of bread, newly bought on the day lay perfectly intact, except for the mould growing inside it.
Here is my husband's desk. See all those rows of files in the back - that's where he sat, and those filing cabinets are what he had to climb over to get to the door after the earthquake stopped.
This was the filing room. All those large cabinets were bolted to the floor and had bracing. They had aisles between them for the clerical staff to stand and file - as you can see the quake has thrown them off their bracings and they have fallen into each other. It is a miracle that no-one was in there at the time.
The office floor . . .
And this is the reason why it is dangerous to go back into their building . . . the precarious lift tower next to their office . . .