Sunday, September 05, 2010
i wish i knew some relevant biblical quote to start this post.
something about the earth heaving and all will be smiteth, you know what i mean.
so yes, there was an earthquake.
a big fuckin' earthquake, the sort of earthquake you see on tv.
it was 7.1 on the richter scale, and the centre was only 30km away and a measly 10km deep. now *that's* an earthquake.
i woke up to a shuddering house, leapt out of bed and threw myself under the doorway where i had a fabulous view of the rather heavy bookcase in the hallway swaying back and forth and spewing it's contents onto the floor in front of me. the noise was phenomenal, end of the world type stuff. i didn't know if anyone else was home, and for a few moments there thought that it might be curtains closed, the quake seemed to go on for such a long time and everything was crashing down around me.
luckily when it was safe to stand up i could see the van outside, which meant that matt was home at least. turns out he was outside wondering if he'd have to smash a window to get me out of the bedroom! so we huddled in the garden feeling the aftershocks, and watching the lights on the hill go out suburb by suburb. we made a couple of very quick forays into the house for warmer clothes and boots and cellphones. it was really frightening being inside the house, not knowing whether another big one was going to hit. the first thing i did when i got back outside was fire a text off to jeff, i figured it was a good idea to get one out of the country just in case! crazy what our minds do in a crisis.
i was worried then that we'd just caught the tail end of something bigger based in wellington (that's the quake we've all been waiting for), but luckily we still had power and a few minutes later there was a report on the radio that it was based near christchurch - which, believe it or not, was a relief!
i couldn't get hold of mum and dad on any of their phones, but wasn't too worried as the networks were overloaded and they don't tend to keep their cellphones on them anyway. eventually i got through, they'd lost power and a brick chimney. so when it seemed safe enough (how does one even try to gauge that?!) we drove over with a kettle of water for cups of tea in the dark. what fun and larks!
day broke an hour or so later, and then we were off to check on our shops. surprisingly the damage was minimal. plenty of smashed bottles and jars on the floor at piko, but no real damage to the building other than a few more cracks in the plaster (thank god we got it earthquake strengthened to the tune of a few hundred thousand dollars a few years back, we'd be sifting through a pile of rubble otherwise) so after a clean up for a couple of hours, we figured it was time to go have a look at the central city. we'd heard that a lot of it was cordoned off, so it was a walking mission. unbelievable! there are buildings missing whole sides, groups of shops crumpled on the ground, broken windows everywhere and a few squashed cars... my sister's included. we'd picked her up earlier, her house is unlivable and her car is a total write off due to a load of bricks falling on it.
there was this weird post-apocalyptic feel in the air, though sort of exciting and cheery at the same time, probably due to the ridiculously beautiful day that was unfolding [oh fuck, that was quite a big aftershock]. we were so lucky to have a sunny day, it would have been horrendous if people were also getting cold and wet and hyperthermic. there is definitely a lot to be thankful for, for one that it was during the quietest part of the night and most people were safe(ish) at home.
after the town mission i made my way up the hill to check on jeff's parents as he hadn't heard from them. all good there, they were in fine form and offered me cups of coffee and a tour of the garden - i've promised i'll go back one day soon for that! then it was down the hill for a debriefing with my family, over a bowl of hot soup. not bad at all.
after a few hours of talking and tidying i finally made it home to see the state of my little house. structurally intact, and plenty of material for mosaicing. i'm a little sad to have lost so many of my favourite pieces of handmade crockery, but it's such a small price to pay really.
sleep was a long time coming, we left the radio and a lamp on, and i do admit i put a change of clothes in a bag beside the door. but here i am this morning, safe and well other than a banging headache and a bruised toe. didn't get too much sleep last night, and the aftershocks are still scary, but at least the worst is over!
take care, blogfriends.