Friday, 4 September 2015

Christchurch Earthquake, September 2010

It was 4:35am on the 4th of September 2010. A sudden bang woke us and then the shuddering started--its irregularity saturated with wrong, with violence. Our earth had reared up and begun to rage.
My husband yelled something-- I can't remember what--his words were torn away by the chaos. Everything was thrown up and down--there was so much sound. I ran down the hall, the shaking caused me to bounce from wall to wall, but desperation drove me on. I had to reach to my daughter's room. My thoughts were something along the lines of , She's alone! She can't be alone, not during this--not while our world is being torn apart.

Meanwhile my husband had picked up our 3 month old son from the crib in our room, moments before the television and tall boy crashed down beside the crib, right where he had been standing. Just moments... 

It was only a minute or so long but it seemed to go on forever. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as the whole house rocked, groaned, lurched and shuddered, like a ship tortured by a stormy sea. There was a cacophony of sounds, smashing, thumping and straining timber--and the roar, I'll never forget that roar.

It felt like our home was going to fall apart around us. It didn't.
I thought briefly that we were going to die, but we didn't.

The lights dimmed to black several times, plunging us into darkness. I remember screaming and praying as I clutched my still-slumbering daughter tight, huddled down beneath the strong kauri doorway in the hall. My back pressed hard against the framing, hugging it as it moved. Eventually the house started to sway more softly, a rolling motion like a calming sea and the shaking eased. It was a soothing lullaby after the world's screams. I was still trembling.

My husband passed my son to me and went to get dressed. There were more shakes, smaller, as if the earth was twitching in pain. Our power had come back on so we turned on the lounge television--it had miraculously survived the shaking. On it there was nothing but trite, regular programming. Nothing for us. We needed to know... we were looking for answers. Had this truly happened? How bad was it? What would it mean? So we tried the portable radio and found a local station. For the next hour we listened to talk-back radio. We heard the voices of other terrified people just like us, occasionally broken by emergency broadcasts and it all became real.It hadn't all been just a bad dream. Afterwards we experienced a strange, giddy and hysterical lightness as blessed relief surged over fear.

 Our world changed after that night. The aftershocks kept that first terrifying 7.1 quake fresh in our minds, but worse was to come. Our city/ region experienced something terrible and there were no quick fixes. It would/will take years. We had more quakes, people died, homes were lost...people left, things broke...people broke. What can you do when you can no longer trust the ground beneath your feet?
I prayed.

Yet amid the strange reverberating chaos of that first quake-ridden morning there was a special moment. My 2 1/2 year old daughter was watching the sun rise. The warm orange glow bathed her golden curls, lit her wide smile and those excited, sparkling eyes.  A fragile hope and confidence broke through the shock. I knew then that we were going to be all right.
Thank God we were all right.

Join my fellow Guild members as they share their thoughts and memories of that night, September 4th 2010.
Judy L. Mohr
Angela Oliver
J.L. O’Rourke

For more photos, see my post Transition, which was inspired by Christchurch's Festival of Transitional Architecture, FESTA.

Photos by Shireen Helps, and Jessica Colvin.

My Grandfather's home (Banks Peninsula)

The Christchurch Cathedral

Re:Start Mall -allowing people to shop in the central city once again.

Some other interesting Christchurch quake links:
Urban Explorers-
September 4th 2010, Associated Press raw footage-  
September GNS Scientists Fly over of fault trace
CCTV Footage of Feb 22nd quake-
Drone footage of the Christchurch suburb, Avonside

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