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Christchurch Earthquake 10 years on.
Where was I at 5 minutes to 1, February the 22nd 2011.
A date I shall never forget, forever etched into my brain.
I was sitting at my computer typing, a fine Tuesday morning, the sun was shining, the birds were chirping. I was surfing my exchanges, having a ball, allocating credits, totally engrossed in the activities I do daily on the computer. Confident in the knowledge that I was earning and establishing my down lines at the sites I belong to, yes on track to succeeding with my on line marketing business.
It started to shake, and I thought here we go again, just another aftershock. I had so often been sitting and typing, not bothering to stop as we have had 1000's of aftershocks. Since September 2010. I wasn't scared as it had just become a natural way of life, never knowing where or when the earth would rock, it became an every day occurrence. I just continued on with what ever I was doing totally ignoring the shaking, confident that it would stop in the next few seconds. When suddenly I was aware of an unusual silence, the birds had stopped singing their sweet song. Alarm bells started ringing.
A dread starting to sweep over me. I was becoming aware that this was different. The shaking was building and the strength of these shakes were sending things flying. My chair was on wheels, and when it moved violently back, and the monitor came flying towards me, all at the same moment, I knew I was in trouble. All this in the space of only a few second's in time. Everything started to explode around me, cupboard doors came flying open, the floor below my very feet, took on a life of it's own, feeling like sand moving underneath. Swaying like waves crashing against rocks, intent on destruction. Movement was near impossible, as the ground wasn't stable. The whole house was moving, and swaying. You could hear it creaking and groaning, as if struggling against mother nature's violent attack. Adrenalin set in, I threw myself up and tried to get to the safest point, being tossed from side to side, all so unreal. Treated like a rag doll. Oblivious to the glass spread all over the floor. just a mad dash for safety. I hadn't started to cry at this moment I just thought it was bigger than usual and should get to the safety underneath the doorway.
Its all a blur as to much was happening for my brain to maintain. Just won't stop. Kitchen cupboard doors, were flying open, all that was inside were making their way for escape, plates glasses you name it were like thunder smashing down on the floor. I watched in terror as all my beautiful blue collection went flying. No shelf was spared, bottles, ordiments you name it, all went on a weird journey of flight, then sudden descent.
I was so angry with my self, that I had not changed my routine. Yes with my ruptured bowel I was tired once the night crept in, so It always was a chore to get dinner on the table, I tidied the bench, made sure dishes were stacked and ready to attack in the afternoon. Or when I felt comfortable on my feet, days were lazy and sweet. I had made life a pleasure didn’t dwell on all I had lost, put up with the pain from my swollen stomach which made me look 8 months pregnant ready to give birth. Now I just stared and was annoyed I hadn’t attacked the dishes before and put them away, then their wouldn’t of been water in pots. But then I reminded my self it wouldn’t of made much of a difference, as their still would have been oil in the pan, the coffee would still of smashed, so the thought drifted away as fast as it began.
My beautiful favorite huge fry pan, heavy I thought, safely on the bench, gliding as if flying, then just down with an almighty crash, smashing the legs, oil joining and spreading across the already littered floor, pots I had soaking added their water deposits, coffee smashed adding to the liquid pile. What was only seconds in time, seemed so long, everything playing through my head in slow motion. I just watched transfixed to this incredible display of decay. Arms out stretched in the doorway for leverage. As I just scared and dazed in my safe place, not even really remembering how I made it. I wasn’t able to move, my legs were like lead. I just leaned back against the side of the wall, dazed with disbelief, grateful I was still standing up, deep breathes, trying to get some calmness. Knowing deep with in, hearing my sobs getting louder and louder, such disbelief. trying to stay sane, as I could feel insanity creeping in. It started to set in, that this was no ordinary earthquake and fear started to raise its ugly head, tears started rolling down my cheeks as panic started to sweep and invade my body, my legs went like jelly,
Once I made it to my safe place, the first thing I did was have a good smoke. Then I thought damn I hadn’t gone and got more smokes in the morning, I had a little tobacco and I knew Bryan would be making his way home. Secondly I only had my slippers on so I waited for the shaking to stop, still a little worried I made way to the spare room to grab my boots, I also grabbed the washing basket loading it ready to escape. I then had another smoke. My mind was still in a muddle, I thought I need pillows so I could sit and relax back in the door way, as standing on my feet was taking its toll. I settled down shut my eyes and tried to relax, as the house rolled now and again with further after shocks.
didn't want to budge from underneath the doorway, but knew I had to get
to a safer place. Planting my feet firmly, taking one step at a time as
I didn’t want to slip, the floor was such a mess. I made my way to
the back door, as I tried to get to the back door , my legs started to
do the splits, slipping and sliding in the oily mess. Pain went through my body as I picked myself up, clothes messy and dirty from the spillage all around me. It seemed like hours passed, but in reality I think only about ½ hour when I thought of well never mind I ll start to clean up, no power nor water, I wasn’t really thinking, stupidly I went outside and grabbed a bucket full of rain water, clean and sparkling. I started to bend down and sweep all the mess up into a box, adrelene was still pumping, survival mode had set in. Every aftershock scarred the shit out of me, and I'd make a mad dash to my safe place, take a few deep breathes then sit on my pillow and puff away on a cigarette. Once I felt safe I go back to my cleaning, so much glass and slippery as hell, I had to be so careful as legs started to slip away from me. I didn’t even think about the pain within, the smashing of my stomach, each bend sent pains within, I was just obsessed with cleaning up occupying my mind as I was on my own. I didn’t want to have a panic attack, I knew my partner would be heading home to me. Noises I couldn’t visualize, doors banging, glass clattering. The fridge had moved, as if grown legs, now it was positioned in the middle of the floor. As if it had suddenly come to life, My heart was weeping, as a great huge black cloud started to descend, I didn’t feel warm, I felt cold and lost inside. I just stared at all that surrounded not able to comprehend, The bench no more clean, instead littered with remains of dust coffee, muck n mash, mixed with glass. Things I treasured, my dads belongings, now long dead. Gone in a second, as that's all it took. The kitchen now transfigured. A gorgeous blue large glass head, smashed to smithereens. The hat I loved I threw away, as it was full of glass. Such violence and anger generated, what seemed like hours, was in reality only minutes. Dirt added to the flowing liquid accumulating on the kitchen floor as plants went flying and smashing, all that I valued and loved, tender hours spent, lost in a split second. Now all was intermingling, and forming one huge mess. It only took a few minutes for my life to be turned upside down, to destroy all that was, never to be again. To make me run for cover, terrified for my very well being. Being tossed around, like paper in an angry wind. Such destruction and mayham.
A black cloud of death descends, claiming victims of all ages, and races, no discrimination. Luck was all that was on my side, my location at that precise moment in time would determine if I lived or died. Survival mode clicked in, strength came from deep inside, as I tried to avoid any harm. I viewed things in slow motion, falling and smashing, recalling them over and over again. Every time I close my eyes. Sleep would be near impossible from that moment on. Any sleep I did achieve, was broken and distorted, while my brain tried to sort it. Fear instead would raise it's ugly head, Emotions would appear that I have never experienced before. Then my little brain said to me oh go and get the camera so you can show Bryan the mess when he gets home, as girl you will have it all cleaned up, so unaware of the destruction of the house.What a mess lay within,
I tip toed through the rubble, stepping over treasures broken, looking around in disbelief, bewildered as I ventured further and deeper into the rooms. I grabbed the camera, nervous as hell, turned around and started making my way back to my safe place, once their I sighed a huge sigh of relief, then I sat took a few deep breathes and relaxed smoke in hand.
I did the funniest video just as I turned the camera on another after shock hit I sound so frightened, showing the kids later all we could do was laugh I didn’t mind as it surely was entertaining. I truly believed that my partner would be home very soon, that their would be no tell tale signs of what had just gone on. It was soon to be made very apparent to me, as I went from room to room, that we were about to become destitute.
Disbelief started to set in, as it dawned on me, so much was destroyed and no longer would we have a home. I crumbled in a pile, releasing huge sobs of grief, my whole body just shuttered with emotions that ran deep. The cleaning was intense, I had to stop and take breaks, as my body filled with pain, every time I bend down to sweep the broken pieces into a pile, pain swept through my body, sending waves violently through my stomach. Reminding me I had to take things easy with my colostomy.
As I looked at our bed rooms, I realized how lucky I was, as their was no empty space on the floor, everything had come tumbling down, smashing around. Glass was littered all over the ground. My stock gone to be no more. If I had been in our rooms, severe damage to me would of been done. Heavy weight items were picked up and sent flying, as if they were light as a feather.
I had found our transistor radio, batteries and torch, never imagining I would need it at a later stage, but I had put it away safely after the September earthquake, just encase. So in between I sat quietly in the doorway, my safe place, listening in horror as the broadcaster relayed the amount of aberration that had transfigured our beautiful city. Ablaze with abrupt consequences.
Once I felt safe and thought things had gone quite. I ventured stepping over cracks, exploring what damage had been done. In disbelief all I could do was stand so still and just stare at the water rushing everywhere, liquidfacion everywhere, all gutters gone just horrible grey muck, moving with the breeze, footpath torn up, deep huge sink holes in front of our drive, the road totally destroyed.
I started to feel panic and fear set in, as the seriousness of the destruction started to evade my brain, I decided to go back to my safe place and relax, trying to take it all in.I started to think how was Bryan working with huge machines, houses were destroyed, lives would be lost, I couldn’t believe the destruction told over the sound waves, in disbelief I listened as peoples voices relayed such horror, that buildings had collapsed and cars had vanished, I started to cry deep hard sobs, as I thought of my children's location and phones not working, I tried my cellphone but everything was overloaded. I could hear sirens, and babies crying, it was like something out of the movies as helicopters flew over head. I started to feel very lonely and vulnerable as I was all on my own. The birds sounded crazy, it didn’t seem real, as I tried to keep a grasp on reality, so confused not knowing what to do.
People were dead, no warning just dead. Every 10 minutes the news became more tragic, informing of the sheer panic. Reality hits home. The realization that all was not okay, or going to be a five minute job to clear away, dawned on me. I took silent moments to grief all that was precious and destroyed in that instant second. As I picked up things not of value, which meant a great deal to me, nothing could replace the love I felt receiving these precious items.
Flashbacks took me back to happier times, memories resurfaced of love one's long gone. The memories that came with these possessions, explode through my brain, as I shed silent tears while I prepared to throw them all away. My soul cried for my Dad, not here to put his strong arms around me, comfort me with his soft kind words that all would be alright, I remember the pleasure I had handling his belongings, the many happy moments of just escaping and looking at what once had belonged to him, now broken, my heart was swollen, ready to explode. Life must go on, so in a zombie state, I continue to soldier on. Only a few hours had passed, but it seemed like an eternity. Still taking breaks, and listening to the transistor radio, I felt so isolated and on my own. Panic was starting to set in, as hours ticked by and still no sign of my partner, no replies from my children to the tex messages I had sent. Hell had truly entered our neighbourhood, playing tricks on my brain, planting seeds of doubt as to the where about of my loved one's. Fearing to extreme for their well being. As time continued on, the seed just grew and grew, sending me into hysterical thoughts of them all their laying dead. Never have I been so out of control, constantly crying unable to dismiss the waves of anxiety. Praying for them to return safely.
My next door neighbor is so sweet, he came over to see if I was okay, Never have I been so relieved to see him as he came around the corner of the house to see if I was alright. We both were shaken and exchanged our stories on how it shook and how so much damage had been done, I told him I was fine and that Bryan would be on his way home. I was upset, and embarrassed as I knew I had been crying so loud. He tried his hardest to reassure me that all would be alright, that Bryan would be home in a short time. Then there was just a strange silence between us, as what could we say. There was no certainty as to how the day would play out. So off he went home, and I just collapsed into a shivering mess. I felt safe knowing he was next door, suddenly I didn’t feel so alone, exhaustion started to set in, so I settled down once again in my safe place, shutting my eyes trying to escape, hoping when I opened my eyes all would disappear and go back to normal.
Wandering to and fro. Down the driveway, through the water from the busted pipes, Ankle deep, not worried about ruining my boots.Stepping over debris, once what was a footpath, now destroyed and mangled. Sink holes so deep, oblivious to all around me, lost in another space in time, unsure what to do. Just heading to my destination the end of the street. To just stare past the built up traffic, wishing for our car to appear in the distance. Then turn around and slowly wander home, to continually repeat the motion over and over again, while the sun was still shining.
Daylight was still at bay. Like clockwork I kept this up for hours on end. When I couldn't bear the thought of being alone, and all around me seemed to block me in, making me find it hard to breathe, suffocating me. Off I would go on my soul searching journey to the end of the road again.. Hours tick on. I have been sitting and waiting for what seems like hours, very strange, an hour ago sirens were blaring, dog's were barking, there was so much noise, helicopters flying overhead. Now all there was was deadly silence. The radio, I made sure I turned off, then on for a little while later, as I didn't want the batteries to run out, the state of the situation was unimaginable.
The cathedral had fallen, with people inside, The C.T.V building has tumbled down to the ground, no escape for those inside, all this was being said over the radio. There voices shaking and quivered as they relayed the terrible news of all the destruction, hearts were bleeding.
Then my sister came running around the corner, ragged and torn, she looked terrified. She was screaming Maree Maree, never have I seen such panic on ones face, she looked drained and white, sheer terror was written all over her face we just embraced, she told me her story, so I sat her down and told her to take a few deep breathes and calm down. Their was nothing we could do, her husband was in hospital and she couldn’t get through to him. We just cried as we walked through the house observing all the caios and seeing all that was destroyed, we would just stop and hug, listen to the little transistor radio as more news was broadcasted. We would stop again and just held each other tight, as tears streamed down our cheeks. They had tried to escape, instead got no where fast, as the liquefaction crept and spread around their car, they just managed to get out. So off they walked instead to get first aid for mum.
Our mother all of 83 had tripped and cut her self but was being looked after at the chemist. We just sat dead silent for a few minutes, taking deep breathes just staring straight ahead. No words could be said. When we did try to speak, and put into word's our experience's, it was just all to hard. So I just rolled another smoke and changed the subject. I sent her on her way back to mum who was at the chemist as she had slipped and cut herself, I told her Bryan would be home at any minute, at this point I still was worried just expected him to drive up the drive.
Sadly Mum Passed away the following year.
3pm I set about keeping my mind occupied an continued with the clean up, my heart was broken as I place my broken treasures that I had collected over the years. No way could I replace them, the memories I recalled with every broken piece. I mourned for every little item value was of no concern. Little things sent me back in time remembering the happiness that had been. I was getting sore and tired, so I ventured down to the end of the street, walking in a daze as I witnessed bricks and windows smashed, neighbours houses in ruins. Stepping over obsticles walking on the side walk was like walking over an obstacle course, up and down, what once had been smooth and flat, was now all ripped up, holes all around, the street ripped wide open. Water flowing like a river, angry mounts of trash everywhere, the diary was surrounded by slush. I looked down the road as cars piled up I prayed I would see our car, but no such luck, so I wondered back home, in a zombie state. As time ticked by, each minute seemed like hours, still no sign of Bryan. Time passed 4 5 6 7pm I started to lose it wondering what had become of my Bryan. I started to imagine the worse, caculating in my brain, even if there was heavy traffic he should now be home. Even with my neighbour popping his head over the fence, trying to reassure me that he will be home soon, gave me no comfort. I started to think, maybe someone at work had been injured and that he was helping them, or better still just cleaning up the mess at the factory.
Every time the thought tried to enter my head that it could be him injured or even dead. Blind panic would sweep through me, confused and dazed with to much possibilities, like a cup to full, all it could do was over flow. By now five hours had passed, and there was no reason, or way to explain his delay in returning. I actually started to face the fact, that maybe the truth was he wasn't coming back, so I just gave up and wandered sore and bruised to my lazy boy. Sick to death of the consequences. I texed my sister, Bryan's not home yet, and went blank, blocking out all that was happening around me.
I just stayed in my lazy boy as the after shocks continued, I didn't care any more. I had given up hope, and just rolled into a little ball, wishing an after shock would claim me, so I could at least be with him. No sense in my thinking. I just didn't want to be here any more. My sister came around as soon as she got the tex, we both just cryed, and tried to make any reasonable explanation, for his delay. But none would make any sense. She wanted me to go to her house, to be with family, as the darkness set in, but I would not budge from my home.
Never have I felt so glad, as if the heaven's had opened and answered all my prayers, when he came in, tired, exhausted and a little in shock. It was 9pm when he finually walked through the door. Never had I been so happy as I just hugged and cried. The stress was written all over his face, drained white, as he told me his story.
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