Another step towards normality

They let staff back onto campus today to start the cleanup now that all the buildings have been certified safe. But first we had to attend a safety briefing, and we all had to sign in and sign out so they knew exactly who was in which building in case of aftershocks. All very dramatic, but it’s nice to know management are so concerned about our safety (even if the concern is probably more about not being sued…)

I was a bit worried about what I’d find in my office, because I’d seen the photos and videos of the damage in other parts of the campus, but I got off incredibly lightly – just one filing cabinet had fallen over:

(The trays of videos sitting on the ground were there already – the cabinet they normally live in got damaged a few weeks ago, and we’ve been waiting to get it replaced)

There are quite a few cracks in the interior walls of the building, but we’ve been promised by the engineers that they’re not dangerous (I seriously hope they’re right!!!). Here’s my favourite one from my office:

There were about half a dozen of us from our department who’d made it in to work, so we teamed up and cleaned up all the offices of people who hadn’t been able to come in, and the common areas. It was weird – some offices were completely untouched while the office next door would be a complete mess. There was no way of predicting what you’d find when you opened a door. It took us all morning to get our department back to normal, plus to help out a bit with another department upstairs.

Even though the damage wasn’t as bad as we’d imagined it might be, it was still surprisingly emotionally draining work, so once the basic cleanup was done we all headed home. Jenny and her husband offered me a lift home, but as we were walking to the car we noticed that a Chinese restaurant on the edge of campus where we’ve often had lunch was open. We decided we needed a treat, and went in for lunch, and it turned out to be exactly what I needed – it was so incredibly normal being in there, just like it was an ordinary work day. Yet another assurance that life will return to normal eventually.

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