Humbled by the most devastated
In Christchurch’s central business district, many of the shaken cafes still had tables laid with plates, glasses and half eaten food.
‘‘It was a very eerie experience,’’ said Matamata’s Senior Constable Martin Capener, who spent eight days in Christchurch volunteering to help restore some order to the city central.
‘‘At the cafes you could see where the people had been eating. Now they have just disappeared. It was just empty and dark.’’
Mr Capener was one of 60 officers sent from the Waikato to Canterbury from February 28 to March 8.
He worked alongside the New Zealand Army and the Australian Police from 7pm to 11am each day, working 15 to 16 hour shifts.
They conducted check points, walked through the streets looking for looters and checked credentials of searchers or others entering the central city.
Mr Capener was shocked by the extent of devastation and said it was a lot worse than what was portrayed on television.
‘‘I could not believe the level of damage that existed. I had seen the television pictures, as had everyone else, but the sheer level of destruction still amazed me,’’ he said.
‘‘The atmosphere, smell and noises of being there showed you how great the true scale of it was.’’
The aftershocks also came frequently. ‘‘The biggest aftershock I felt while I was down there was 4.8 magnitude and I could see the buildings were rocking. ‘‘It was an unusual experience,’’ he said. ‘‘The building next to me was moaning and creaking as though it was on the verge of collapse.’’
He said he has a deep respect for the volunteers and Cantabrians because despite all their heartache, they still banded together to help each other out. ‘‘The people there are quite amazing.
‘‘We had a lot of them helping out by bringing us food,’’ he said.
‘‘These were the people who were directly affected. ‘‘This was a very humbling part of it.’’ Mr Capener said even though it was a hard experience, he would volunteer his time again if it was needed.
Restoring order: Matamata Senior Constable Martin Capener went to Christchurch to help his colleagues following the massive earthquake on February 22.