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Temporary downtime: Christchurch earthquake aftermath


We’re fine after the earthquake, but things are not back to normal in Christchurch – to give visitors an idea of the damage, here are a couple of shots I took on Saturday morning. I was having a week off work anyway, which is well-timed given the circumstances, and I’ll blog occasionally over this time.
My story: I was fast asleep until about 4.35am on Saturday morning.  The bed started to jiggle, a bit like when Manly Jack gets the leg twitch thing going, but instead of stopping, this became much more violent.  We could both hear crashing, tinkling sounds as things were falling off shelving, and we leaped out of bed to grab a torch and stand in the doorway.  We must have stood there for at least a minute while the house shook and a deep rumble continued.  The power was off, and for a brief moment it was quiet – then another series of shakes and that rumble and dogs barking, birds chirping, more tinkling sounds and I immediately thought of bottles and glasses and ornaments and books falling off shelves.  The shaking stopped and this strange silence emerged, punctuated by dogs barking and people’s voices.  We toured around the house by torchlight – no power, no water, nothing.  After very briefly checking for damage, we headed back to bed, thinking that it would be safest to remain there until light.   We’d packed everything ready to go camping at first light, so much of our usual emergency supply equipment was packed in the garage.  We couldn’t open the garage because it’s electric, and the torch we had was a bit dim, but sufficient for that quick tiki tour.

Our neighbourhood watch was working extremely well – our next-door-neighbour hammered on the door to see if we were OK, and she and the rest of the neighbours were checking the older neighbours next door and across the road.  I tried to text my daughter and my son – the cellphone system wasn’t working very well, but I got a couple of messages through.  I grabbed my ipod – it was pretty funny to have Manly Jack and I both listening to the radio using one set of headphones!  We kept updated via National Radio (hats off to them, fantastic work) until it started to get light.  With no power, no internet (waaah!), no coffee (WAAAH!) and with no water, no sewage, and lots of texts from family members, it was a bit chaotic.

Our place sustained no damage, but TV, bookcase, computer and other heavier things had moved across the floor – I cannot believe nothing broken! It had been so hard to stand up during the quake I felt certain we’d have glass shards and things strewn across the kitchen, but although things had moved, nothing at all was broken.

We headed out at first light to see Manly Jack’s relatives – their place a real mess, the roading had subsided, water mains burst, house has sagged and various cracks throughout the place.  Thankfully my family were fine, no harm, no damage.  And on a beautiful day, sun shining and gorgeous weather, we started to examine the mess and do what we could to help.

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” – Buddha

11 comments

  1. my my. quite shaken, Bronnie.
    Thanks for posting.
    What happened in the stream? Did the quake lift the bed?
    I am glad you are ok.
    As Buddha says, let us be thankful.
    Yours,
    Lia

    1. Yes, the riverbed must have been raised during the shaking, and it’s now got this stange hump in the middle of it! The fields beside that area have liquefied and sand has come up throughout it, and there are enormous cracks about a foot wide or more all the way through the area.

  2. I am glad you are ok, what would the world do without you?! I know, it would still turn, but you’d be sorely missed by many!

    1. You’re sweet Yvonne! The photographs don’t really capture the enormity of what has happened – it’s the heritage buildings that have been most hit, especially the little industrial ones and the older homes. I don’t think there is a single brick chimney that hasn’t had the mortar shaken out!

  3. I am in Christchurch and we are still scared two days later – my friend who’s house is trashed sleeps in a bed made up under our dining table. It is terrifying, and the aftershocks are almost worse because I’m conditioned to grab on at each shake.
    Photographs dont capture the fear.
    Take a look at this video made straight away – my wife was fantastic preparing a survival kit and having our Solar Light Caps handy, but you can see the fear and lost looks on her face:

  4. Please accept my simpathies from Italy. When I watched the news my first thought was regarding you and your family. Have a great resumption. Bye

    1. Thanks so much Antonello, it means a great deal to know that people from around the world are thinking of us during this rather strange and unsettling time. We’re fine, but I am finding the intermittent aftershocks a bit difficult to tolerate now… it puts many of us on edge. I am so grateful no-one has died as a result of this quake, and so many of us have become closer to those around us. Through adversity we can grow.

  5. When I heard about this on the news I had to come see how you were. I knew even if you did not go through the earthquake yourself, you would know people who would have. Our thoughts at CPR are with you and I am sorry for the stress you must be dealing with. You always seem to find a positive take on things and I hope this is what helps get you, your family, friends get through this tough time. If there is anything your friends at CPR can do please let us know. ANYTHING.

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