Part 23: Fit The Twentieth : Fables Of The Reconstruction
Fit The Twentieth : Fables Of The Reconstruction
After the speeches had concluded, the crowd dispersed back into their own homes to do what they could, or in the case of the evacuees, to their makeshift tents or the field kitchen that had been set up by the army. A number of geologists had arrived to make field studies of, one of them informed me that the actual quake was caused by an increase of pressure the El Trentoro faultline, which was released. The faultline had been thought to lie to the east, but apparently someone had miscalculated. If I'd know about about it I would've approved that damned Retrofit ordinance, but, in any case, too late now.
The president, Louis Fontana, met with some more of the evacuees that were being housed in the school hall for now, as did I. Most of them came from the Port area, which had borne the brunt of the quake, but it had missed most of the houses in town, though it did a lot of damage in the industrial areas. I could see unemployment being a problem in the year to come, and we would probably lose a lot of people as they emigrated to other towns for employment.
Finally, the president and I were able to talk in private.
OK, Louis, as you can see we are going to need a fair amount of disaster relief funding.
We are right on top of that, Wal, you will receive nearly five thousand simoleons in funding.
That's much appreciated.
Which will be paid in the new year.
What? But that's months away! We have less than half a grand in the bank! What are we supposed to do until then?
Well, I'm sure you'll think of something. From what I've heard about you, you are a resourceful chap. Even if you're possibly the worst public speaker I have ever heard.
What's that supposed to mean?
I mean, "We're fucking awesome"? Not very statesman-like.
The people loved it and that's what counts. In times like this you have to try and lift people out of their despair.
You certainly know how to fix things, but frankly. you have all the charisma of stale broccoli. I can see why the Party sent you out of the way.
The Party. Oh yes, the Party. They abandoned me here. Left me with this mob of loonies. I've forgotten about the Party, for good reason.
I assure you the Party has not forgotten about you.
Could've fooled me. By the way, why do you keep staring to your right?
Lazy eyes. Both of them.
With that, President Fontana returned to the army base where he flew back to Capitolia that evening. Meanwhile, we had to make the most of our meagre funds
The state prison was cut off from the town supply of electricity, and while it was switched off, it wasn't going to pay us a dime.
At least the power cable over the river was unaffected, but we had to hook the overhead cables on land back up.
The next task was to enable the workers to get to the remaining factories, as all roads from the main town were severed.
This was carried out as a priority. Between these two tasks, our available funds were running very low.
Nate was rather distraught about the haunted house being destroyed and wanted a new one built straight away, I wondered if the kid would ever grow up.
Still, I couldn't say no to replacing it, really. At least we could park it somewhere else out of the way.
At least I wouldn't have to pay for that, nor for the replacement city hall or the courthouse. I was pretty keen to get the hall back, because at the moment people were returning to my house to harass me in my pyjamas.
I mean, some people just couldn't get it through their thick skulls that I had more important things to deal with, but, no, Hannah and her sisters had to doorstop me and state the bleeding obvious.
You do realise we've just been through a major natural disaster, Hannah. Of course everyone's cracking the shits!
Oh I know that, Wallace, but I just wanted to let you know that the people are feeling down, just in case you hadn't noticed.
No shit. Thanks for telling me this vital piece of information. Now get the hell off my lawn.
Of course they were so nice they did what they were told. I saw Greta turn up as they were leaving and could only slap my head.
Well that's good that it's free. Since the state's not giving us any money until freaking January.
Similarly, Orville turned up with the good news that, since our previous courthouse had been knocked for six, we'd get a new one gratis.
I couldn't see that much of a problem with the so-called "aura", but then again no mystical energy field controlled my destiny.
The city was effectively bisected by the quake, so reconnecting the roads and rail would next on the agenda. I was also going to take the opportunity to review where some of them went.
Oh, and the pipes of course.
They, too, were a shambles.
We had just enough money left to at least connect the factories back up to the water supply.
Interestingly, the quake barely touched the subway, only affecting the very end, though that included City Hall underground station.
There hadn't been too much damage to the parks, though I guessed the haunted house was considered amongst them, so I had to deal with that.
At least Moe was pretty upbeat about the lack of traffic.
By September we were skint. We'd barely started on the clean up, all the wrecked buildings needed to be cleared away before new buildings could be constructed in their place.
Fortunately the smallest of loans would let the city get moving on that, and by the time the relief payment came in January we might be able to get quite a bit done.
Ironically, the downtown fire station bit it because of the fires, which mean we were very low on fire protection, and it was of course seen as critical that I build it up to a much higher level.
And so the clean-up began in earnest.
We were perhaps a little lucky that the quake coincided with the open land between the city and the industrial area, but it still made an impact.
Ruefully, the line of burnt out trees also needed to be removed.
The demolition work moved onto the Port Funkytown estates.
With most of the rubble removed, now we would start levelling the disturbed land and rebuild the completely devastated areas, particularly downtown.
The Downtown police station bit it as well, so that would have to be replaced. And, as previously noted, fire coverage was absurdly inadequate.
I was not surprised that many factories had closed up in the months after the quake, some had been destroyed, but other factory owners had become fed up at the adverse conditions and put their factories in mothballs. This was driving unemployment up, and some emigration would surely follow the jobs out of the city. We simply had to get things back in order as soon as possible and hope that the situation would be restored.
Happily, enough progress had ensured downtown that the city hall could be replaced.
A brief ceremony was held to inaugurate the new building, build exactly on the site of the old one, but it was nothing ostentatious. I was just glad to have my office back.
I had decided to move the courthouse to a new location, closer to the old town, next to the temporary downtown police stations. I had it named the Funkytown Courthouse Memorial Courthouse, but that only ended up confusing people. I liked that.
After six months of hard work, everybody decided to chill down at the ice rink.
Not for long; whilst it was nice to finally get that relief payment, curse the bureaucracy, the underlying budget would likely be quite austere for the foreseeable future.
At least the subway was easily fixed, having only to replace a few segments. I decided not to replace the intervening station for now.
The jail was getting very overcrowded but there were still more important matters. A riot would be small beer at this point.
Most of the existing educational buildings were similarly overloaded, but again, I was going to revert to type and not really bother with that for now.
Being January, it was also a good time to introduce a couple of new ordinances.
I couldn't help but feeling bringing in the Earthquake Retrofit was too little, too late, but anyway, I'd rather not be caught out a second time.
I also felt the time was right to enact the Tourist Promotion ordinance; whilst a few councillors made disparaging remarks about "disaster tourists", I curtly told them that by the time they arrived they'd probably be disappointed, as the city would not show a scratch by then.
I also decided to ease back on residential taxes again. Goodness knows we needed the cash, but we also needed to hang onto every citizen we could. They could use a break.
The airport was laughingly down to two acres, so, even though it was an expensive loss, I decided to dezone it and decide on a new location later.
With the quake taking out the last of the direct ground rail between the old town and the hall district, it seemed to make sense to extend the avenue all the way downtown in its place. Besides which, there was still the subway, and the railway in the other direction.
And, so, some more dense commercial zoning was laid down. Also a new fire station nearby.
... and another one in Ashy Bend...
... and yet another in Bunkleyville.
There was annoying gap in coverage around Sledgehammer Man (I refused to believe it looked like me) but it'd just have to do. Four engines would be better than two, anyway.
Oh, and I might as well put down a fifth in Greenfield as well. The AJs were a bit prone to pyromania, after all.
The tax rates were considered ideal, at least.
As I expected, a whole ten thousand residents had fled the city, but fortunately factories were opening back up in sufficient numbers to halt the exodus, and perhaps some of the refugees would return to their old jobs.
We also had water treatment plants available, but as of this point water pollution wasn't considered enough of a problem to warrant one. I'd probably wait for Gus' call before I responded.
A new location for the haunted house was found, towards the east of the town. I
I was also doing a fair amount of messing around with the transport networks, as I decided that a new road link would be built along the path of the earthquake. After all, the land was clear!
Eventually it would form one of the main arterial links between the eastern suburbs to the city, named El Trontoro Parkway.
As the disaster tourists began to arrive, they were quite disappointed by the towers that had sprung up from the rubble just a year after the earthquake. I didn't mind, however. It was fortuitous that the quake didn't take out the original city scrapers.
I continued rezoning more of the old town for high-rise housing. I would reserve the blocks next to the lake for detached housing, however.
City expenses had increased significantly, due partially to the improved fire coverage and extra ordinances, but the budget was still pretty good, even if it might be a long time before we could get the defence contractor on board.
The population was nearly back up to the old levels, and though the city and its residents still bore some scars, by and large the setback had almost been erased, though it did hold back the city's progress by a couple of years.
The Maxwell Smart bridge had not yet been replaced, and until that happened that part of the foreshore nearby would remain vacant, but otherwise Downtown was looking better than ever.
People continued to get lost in the eastern suburbs due to the highly confusing road layout, but if they got on the El Trontoro Parkway they should be able to figure out where to go.
By the middle of 1936, Funkytown had successfully recovered from the earthquake, so I considered that we could get back to business.