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The Day the Earth Shook.

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Christchurch Earthquake Map

It’s 04:35am on Saturday 4th September 2010 and I am fast asleep in bed with Zulu the cat curled up beside me.

A loud rumbling wakes me, Zulu leaps from the bed and scurries under it. The room begins to shake. “Oh, it’s just an earthquake”, I think. I’m still lying in bed trying to process this, as the room shudders more violently. “Gosh, it seems like a big one, perhaps I should move to the doorway”. The movement is now so violent I can’t even lift myself from the bed. It seems to go on forever but I’m not scared, I don’t know why. I can hear breaking glass coming from the kitchen, hubbyluvs yells “Are you okay?” from the lounge. He had fallen asleep on the sofa again. Finally the rolling stops, I try to turn on the light – the power’s out. Where’s a torch when you need one! I scramble around for my cellphone as hubbyluvs stumbles in with the torch. “&8@*, that was massive”, he exclaims, “No kidding!” I reply.

We make our way back to kitchen and lounge to survey the damage. A couple of wine glasses are shattered on the kitchen floor but there doesn’t appear to be anything else amiss. CD’s are strewn over the floor in the lounge. We clean up as best we can in the torchlight.
Twenty one minutes later is the first of the aftershocks. We throw ourselves into the doorways and hang on. It’s huge but not as prolonged as the initial quake. After it subsides we venture out to check for more damage. All is well.

We go to bed to try and get back to sleep but the aftershocks keep coming, every ten minutes or so there is another one. I get a text from my brother, who lives on the other side of town, asking if we’re okay. They’re fine but his pregnant wife is very shaken, in this case literally!

Thank goodness for cellphone internet access, I check the Stuff news website. It says the quake is a 7.4 on the Richter scale, and that buildings have collapsed around the city, but there have been no reports of any deaths. I’m relieved that we appear to have survived unscathed.

I send a text of to my best mate who lives, on her own, just round the corner. She’s okay and doesn’t have much damage either. We have a prolonged text conversation. Hubbyluvs complains about my TARDIS alert tone, I moan about his audible key tones as he texts mates and family. Just another day.

It’s almost pitch dark in the room, no streetlight seeping through curtains, no stand-by light emitting from the TV and DVD, just the glow of our cell phones.
At 7.43am I post on Facebook “All okay after 7.4 earthquake early this morning. Still no power though”.
8.00am it’s light outside, sleep has eluded both of us so we decide we may as well get up. The cats are still wedged under the bed; the aftershocks will keep them there for most of the day.

The phone rings. It’s Work (Emergency Services Call Centre),
“Can you come in early?”
“I’ll be there as soon as I can”.
“Bring food and bottled water with you, the town is a mess. Do you need a taxi to pick you up?”
“Nah, hubbyluvs will bring me in, he doesn’t have to work today.”

We live about a ten minute drive from the centre city. Neither of us can believe the damage to some of the buildings we pass. Whole shop fronts have disintegrated. Chimneys have toppled from houses. Burst water mains spilling all over the road.
As we get closer to town there are road blocks manned by Police. Hubbyluvs drops me as close to work as possible and I walk the rest of the way skirting round fallen masonry.
The lifts are inactive. I climb the stairs to the third floor. I enter the room gasping for breath. There are grins from my work colleagues – they’ve already struggled up. The room is oddly cheerful until it is rattled by another aftershock, but it doesn’t take long for the jovial atmosphere to appear back. We survived and no one died!

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  1. munchin's Avatar
    Wow! What an ordeal! Glad you're alright. Did that cats ever make it out from under the bed?