I have had many, many expressions of concern since the earthquake struck Christchurch again on Tuesday 22 February 2011. I’m glad to say that me and my family have escaped relatively unscathed from this traumatic event – I can’t say how badly hit my home city has been though. While the earthquake on 4 September last year was certainly awful, this one has been so much more devastating in terms of the physical damage, not to mention the human cost in loss of life and both physical and emotional damage. The infrastructure in Christchurch is incredibly damaged – I live in New Brighton, and we are expected to not have power for several weeks; we have no water or sewerage; the roading is terribly broken up with huge holes and smelly, sewage-contaminated liquefaction all around.
Luckily I am well set-up at home with camping equipment. My partner and I were away on a camping holiday for two weeks, starting on Sunday (20th). We were in Motueka which is well north of Christchurch when I heard about the quake. I can’t tell you how overwhelming it felt to be up there and be unable to contact my daughter who was in town, right beside one of the worst-hit areas of the city centre. She was safe, and made contact about five hours later, but as we heard of people being killed by falling debris, I’m sure you can imagine what it was like not to be able to hear anything. The rest of my family are fine.
I’m currently writing from my parent’s place. Their power and water has been restored hence my being able to write! But I will go back to my home later today because the mess inside was incredible. Every single drawer and cupboard was open with the contents hurled on the floor. All the TV sets (we have a few!!) hurled to the ground, all the electronic equipment similarly on the ground (and we have no way to tell if they’ll ever work again with no power!). My precious ceramics and crystal smashed – all the foodstuffs from my pantry over the floor. Now the contents of my fridge and freezer are rotting because there is no power. My sewing machine, iron, all my beadwork – tossed on the floor. My piano had a shard of glass embedded in the side about 1cm deep (glad I wasn’t standing in the way of that!). All the bookshelves and books, all the china cabinet, – ALL THE ALCOHOL!!!! all over the floor.
How do you clean with no water? How do you get rid of the glass shards in the carpet with no power? What do you do with the wasted food and human waste that needs to be disposed of while keeping hands clean? No cell phones, I have a portable radio (thankfully!) but not able to make calls for most of yesterday – we now have the telephone connected, thankfully we have an old analogue phone we keep for just these emergencies!
If you haven’t yet put together an emergency kit – please do! Consider it to be something like camping: gas cooker (portable), water containers (20litres), toilet paper and a portaloo, hand sanitiser, foodstuffs that won’t go off or don’t need refrigerating. I’m using ice and a chilly bin to keep food cold – you can’t keep meat, milk, cheese in a warm environment.
I know I won’t be able to maintain contact much over the coming days until we get power restored. In the meantime, please accept my thanks for the thoughts that have been pouring in. I know there are so many people who have given time and energy to keep the people around me well and bouyed in heart and mind. This is why people matter.
A maori saying that always means a lot to me:
He aha te mea nui?
What is the most important thing? It is people, it is people, it is people.