I tried to write a post yesterday about the devastating quake in my homeland. In the end I deleted the rambling because I figured they weren’t my stories to tell.
But today I noticed Melba
mentioned that I’d been quiet on my blog and wondered if my people were ok. I forget sometimes about the life the blog has, almost independent of my own.
Around the middle of the day on Tuesday, my phone started vibrating madly. I’m not wedded to my iphone and it’s always on silent while working. For the next hour and a half, while with clients, it buzzed. I Kept Calm and Carried On, with increasing disquiet, ‘til my I finally got a break. Texts and voice messages all said the same thing “Bad quake in Chch”.
I’m from Wellington a city, unlike Christchurch, built on multiple fault lines. We’ve always lived under the shadow of the “big one”. My immediate family and friends are safe in the capital.
But New Zealand is small enough that the degrees of separation are incredibly low. You always know people in other parts of the country.
Unlike during the September quake, which had seemed shocking enough without any loss of life, people I cared very much about had since moved south. In fact, one of my closest friend’s two daughters now lived there. It was unbearable to think of anything awful happening to them.
I’m relieved to say there are no sad stories regarding them. Being the disaster queen, in my mind I was already jumping on a plane to Wellington to be with my friend. Fortunately that has not been necessary. In an amazing twist of fate, her youngest had already planned to travel to Wellington on Tuesday, her father accidentally booking an early morning flight instead of the afternoon one she’d requested. Number two was safe in her house with her boyfriend, unaware til she had power and able to watch TV the extent of the carnage.
I do know of someone pulled alive but injured from one of the pancaked buildings and everyone seems to have a friend or a relative in Christchurch whose house is unliveable. Until the names of the dead and missing are published the full extent of those degrees of separation are unclear.
Christchurch is a beautiful and welcoming city. I worked for an organization in the ‘80’s based there. On work trips I was welcomed into colleagues homes, fed, watered and given a comfortable bed. In the 90’s in Melbourne I went out with a guy who called Christchurch home. We had a great nights in a groovy bar in Lyttleton (the suburb at the epicentre) and in the old arts complex in the city. I’ve climbed the Cathedral’s spire – triggering my first experience of being fearful of heights! Now the memories have begun flowing, I realise it’s been a city of many firsts for me.
I can’t watch the repetitive television footage of the destruction (nor stomach the Australian egocentric reporting) any more but I’m taking great comfort in streaming Radio New Zealand
For those who are nervous trying to contact Canterbury acquaintances from afar, the google person finder
, though imperfect, is worth a whirl.
To get a glmmer of an idea of what Christchurch residents have put up with since September 4th 2010 I challenge you to run the quake map
documenting the over 5,000
aftershocks since the initial event. If you don’t have a spare half hour just click on the past 7 days instead.
I promise no pictures of a broken city but the following two images best cover the spectrum of emotions.
Reportedly taken just moments after the quake from the (Port?) HIlls, the CBD is clouded with dust from fallen buildings.Sorry I can't find the source of this picture. Please let me know, or ask me to remove if you don't wish to share it.JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/The Press
How amazing are these two guys? Freed at last from the pancaked Pyne Gould building.#finallyahappystoryAustralians can donate the the New Zealand Earthquake Fund through the Red Cross.
P.S. An email from an Christchurch ambulance officer, read by Danny Watson on NewstalkZB
. Harrowing to listen to but at least there are no pictures.
Labels: Christchurch, disaster, earthquake, New Zealand