How It Was For Me

I was lucky enough to miss the September 7.1 that was the cause of the trouble down here in Christchurch, NZ.
I was also lucky that the Boxing Day aftershock of 'only' 4.9 closed my shop - because the latest big one, a 6.3 on Feb 22nd, totally destroyed it and I don't think its a drama filled exaggeration to say I might not be here if I had been there.
The 6.3 was..unbelievable - to say it was frightening doesn't have the right resonance. I was in a meeting room in the bowels of a shopping mall when it hit. At the time, I didn't fear for my life - Im not sure I had the time! Somehow I got a bruise the side of my hand on my thigh; must have done it when I climbed under the table.
I don't remember being really frightened until we got to the stairs, opened the door that would lead to our exit and saw.... total destruction, ceiling panels down, light fixtures floating, stock everywhere. Realised pretty quick that was not a safe way out - somehow we managed to make our way through the dust and the dark and get out. The building is now deemed to be so unsafe it will be closed for at least 6weeks.
Once we got out, I think thats where it really got scary - people screaming, crying, a lady so scared she was vomiting into the bushes. The panic, the violation, no one knowing where it was safe to stand and wait... for what? To go back in the mall? To go home? People on the phone, desperate, calling their family. People not getting through.
Then cars everywhere as people fled - and liquifaction. No one tells you about liquifaction. Basically, the ground is loose and the underground water gets forced up - and floods onto the street, it moves fast, its cold and dirty - filled with silt. We got stranded in the middle of the road, and then forced to wade through it. The water is too much for the road itself to take - I saw a car sink into a hole that formed in the middle of the road. The hole just opened up, and down the car went.
It was completely surreal.

You see things in life and some you forget, but some things get imprinted so deep you can see them clear as day when you close your eyes. I will always see that room when we opened the door at the top of the stairs, thinking this was our way out. And I will always remember how the ground and the water just opened up and swallowed cars.

And yet, Im so so lucky. At least Im here, I can tell you what I saw - death toll stands at 166 - those people aren't with us to say what they experienced - and no matter how traumatic this was for me - I still count myself lucky and will always spare a thought for those that weren't.
jellibeanz jellibeanz
26-30, F
5 Responses Mar 8, 2011

Yea, it was kinda scary! Im ok - I have the ups and downs. But Ari, Im no doubt you know just as well, that you have to just push on through and live the life you get. It was traumatic - but Im working through it. You understand now a bit better why the aftershocks can get to me though.<br />
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Thanks for saying Im a super hero - I look damn good in thigh high boots and a cape ;)

Bear - I know exactly what you mean - thats whats happening alot with us at the moment - you hear that rumble and feel a shake, the little ones are no prob but anything round about a 4 gives enough of a jolt to send you right back to the fear you had during the big one. Its a trial -- but its live with it or move - and I dont want to move. So I just have to deal with it!<br />
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UC - Im sorry that you were worried, but it so nice to know that you care for me. Thank you for your well wishes - everyday gets easier and things get a little bit better and we feel just a tiny bit stronger -- it will take time, but with so much to be thankful for, I will be ok. Love ya bucket loads!

I was in the Northridge, California earthquake of Jan 1994 - a 6.7 - so I know how terrifying it is. When the earth beneath your feet moves, where are you going to go? We have quakes here all the time. Luckily most are very small and we don't feel them, or just feel a little shake. But my heart goes into my throat every time as I hold my breath waiting to see if this is going to be a big one.

Thanks for your comments.<br />
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Alb - my heart and hopes for a brighter day are with those families too. Thank you.<br />
Mary - I wish I didn't have to remind people -- but give your kids an extra hug today, from me. Thank you for being there for me.<br />
Foolish - Thanks for the strength and courage - and for never failing to think of me and offer your kind words. I know I will be ok - sharing the story is part of the process of moving on from this :)

Thank you for this first hand experience report. True, i have read of earthquake report of NZ and elsewhere too, but its the first time I am hearing of liquifaction.<br />
Being there watching the whole tragedy would always be a unforgettable memory. My heart goes with the families of all those who lived this tragedy. May God bless and comfort them