Monday, 6 September 2010

Okay, the earthquake debrief.

I just heard on the news that there have been over 80 aftershocks since Friday night, and I am still a bit nervous that there is going to be another big one. Hopefully this debrief isn't premature!

Anyway, we were awake when the earthquake happened - the kids who live at the top of our cliff were having a bit of a party and we were on hold to the council, calling noise control (because we are old fuddy duddies with no sense of fun anymore). The baby had just woken up and we were debating whether to go in and get him up or just see if he would go back to sleep. Then it started. A rattle then a roar and it was all on. For a split second I thought it was our cliff was falling down, but then I realised it was more than that. I jumped out of bed and looked out the window - we could see the whole of Christchurch and although it's hard to describe, it was all shaking, the lights all jiggling around while the roar continued. A bright green flash of light tore across the horizon - I think this was a substation shorting out.

During the actual quake, Matt was surprisingly more panicked than me, he hasn't ever been in one and didn't have the practice drills at school which we New Zealanders are so familiar with. In my head I kept thinking we just needed to get under a doorway, so I grabbed Matt and we stood in our bedroom door for a bit before I remembered the baby....! I rushed in, switched on the light (there was still power) and grabbed him - with the light on the severity became obvious - his ikea lamp shade was swinging wildly and smacking against the roof - hard to believe when I look at it now...

Then the power went out and we were in the dark, in Clem's doorway, holding each other tight (and Clem - who had crapped his pants, not due to the quake, but it made the whole huddle thing a bit more unpleasant than necessary) while we listened to the whole city shake and things falling over and the sound of glass breaking - the sound was a total cliche - a jumbo jet flying low overhead, a train tearing through the house, it was the combined noise of the earth groaning and moving and the whole of Christchurch's houses creaking and breaking. Incredible.

It was only later, that I realised we had picked the worst doorway in the house to stand under...

That's right - a lovely pane of 40 year old glass up above just waiting to shatter and fall on us!

The aftershocks started straight away, we clambered downstairs, found a torch and our phones and tried to get some information online (although we had no power Matt's iPhone could still get the world wide web - yay technology!)...Twitter was the first place to show some photos and have information.

We sat trembling in the dark down by the study for about 45 minutes before setting up sleeping spots on the floor of the living room. I didn't even try to sleep but the boys had a bit of a nap. After we realised that we had no water, we packed up and moved over to my parent's place for the next 24 hours.

Driving around the city and seeing pictures online really illustrated what a solid bunker our house is. The only damage I can find is a dent in the baby's room where I swung the door open and the doorknob smacked into the wall, and the fence outside has a bigger crack than it used to:

As we drove across town, we stopped in at Matt's work (we were lucky to get in there before the police had cordoned off the city - his office seemed generally fine (another Warren & Mahoney building), but apparently there were a few broken bottles of wine on the concrete floor), and we checked out all the other W & M hosues we passed on the way - all seemed fine, despite being surrounded by houses with crumbled chimneys and broken fences.

My parents' house was unscathed, but the neighbour's chimney landed in their courtyard:

Now I am back home, pretty anxious about the aftershocks, if another big one hits I think I'm going to aim for the fireplace this time, but I really hope I never have to go through that again!

As an aside, we have had to postpone the work on our drains, as unsurprisingly the drain people are a bit tied up with the general destruction across the city!

1 comment:

  1. I'm happy you made it through ok. They don't build houses like they used to! I had actually not heard about this, but I live on the opposite side of the world - Sweden. I've been through a similair situation, and know how it can be.

    Nice to see some updates though!