Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Earthquake Experience.

At around 4:30 in the morning on Sept 4th, the Earthquake event began for me and for the city I live in, Christchurch, New Zealand.

I woke to violent shaking. I knew instantly we were in trouble. I feel like I woke Ric up, but I'm sure he was already awake. Our toddler had already crawled into bed with us at some point in the night, so I wrapped my arms around her.

'I've got Maddee.' I yelled, get the kids, Ric. Get the kids.'

It's all you think about during a crisis. Your children. Our lovely rimu (a protected native NZ wood) furniture was falling all around us. I didn't think the house would keep standing. All I wanted was my children safe.

Our girls were all upstairs, and came running from their rooms. Isabelle, 13 years old, had been thrown from her bed, but she was okay. We ran down the stairs, and as we did so the house went thump as the top story settled down on the ground story.

The front door would not open, not matter what force he applied. Richard ran to the back of the house, but the glass door between the living area and the kitchen was also stuck and our very upset sixteen year old son was on the other side of it away from the rest of the family.

'Kick the door, Micah, ' Ric yelled. (Now for your information, if you are ever in this situation my advice is NOT to tell your barefoot son to kick a glass door.) Ric might have known he meant the wooden door frame, Micah might have aimed for the wood, but his foot went through the glass. Now we had a bigger problem.

The shake had stopped, but the house felt unsafe. Of course, within minutes we had a large aftershock. Having never been through an earthquake before, we had no idea what would happen next.

No doors would open. We realised later, this was probably a good thing, for those doors had become the load bearers of the upper story of the house. Ric jumped through a front window, ran around and kicked the glass out of the front door and the rest of us came out. By then, Micah had made his way to the front of the house. His foot was bleeding profusely and he was in great deal of pain. I love males, they are so tough, except, of course, when they're hurt.

Maddee was clinging to me. Poor wee girl had not made a sound since it begain. Once we knew the family was safe, away from cars that could roll and power lines that could fall, Ric ran next door to check on our 79 year old neighbor. He seemed to be gone forever. I should have measured his absence by aftershocks.

The morning was black. I never remember seeing such darkness. The electric must have gone in the whole of Canterbury. Only the stars for light. Weirdly, it was beautiful, despite my sons distress, despite my freezing feet, and shivering spirit, the sky was amazing. Just then, when Micah went quiet and all was still, my little Maddee said, 'Look at the stars Mummy.' Then she started singing 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." It sounded so sweet.

As the dawn broke, we would see how much damage our house, our street and our city had taken. What we didn't know then, was that an Earthquake is an event that can last a very long time. And can get worse.

1 comment:

  1. Perfectly captured, above all the tension. great stuff, Bee. And I admire your bravery in writing this in the face of such adversity.

    Simon B xx