September 4th – Rolleston, & February 22nd – Star Building, Tuam St, Christchurch…
September 4th – Rolleston..
I remember having the worst nights sleep..I am a really light sleeper and any noise keeps me awake..my Husband had been been snoring, and I had just managed to fall into a really deep sleep.. when all of a sudden I was woken by a really loud rumble..(we are used to planes flying over..and coal trains heading from the coast) but this was different and sounded like a Jet Plane about to crash into the house..Steve woke and we both said what is it? just as the house started to shake violently.. then it stopped..we both flicked on the light and yelled ” f#@%* that was big ..” and all of a sudden the shaking started again, even more violent, the power went out instantly, and it was pitch black, the bed and room was shaking so much, we could hear things falling over in the house..the dog had leapt out of bed and into his little crate and was growling.. we both sleep in the nude..so we were yelling at our daughter to take cover, then come into our room, while trying to get clothes on while being shaken all over the place..We couldnt find our torches as they had fallen of shelves..
As soon as it stopped.. and there were three distinct shakes..stages of shaking.. I told Caitlin to get changed, I said to Steve “that was really close… lets get out of here..in case of a big wave..” I grabbed a couple of blankets.. I remember opening the ranch slider and the air seemed charged.. you could hear the rumble travelling in the distant, and the ground seemed to be vibrating constantly..
I said to Steve “lets head for the hills”.. (worried about a Tsunami) I had grabbed our phones, bag, a couple of drink bottles from the fridge.. and we raced to the truck to leave..all within 3 minutes..
We weren’t the first car on the road either… it seemed strange no power.. we drove down Hoskyns road, and I rung my mother in law in Invercargill (Carol) and said we are OK, and she was wondering what we were on about.. then I told her what had happened, we were almost at a friends place, so decided to call in and see them, but had to go into 4WD as the fence had fallen over the cattlestop.. Carol could hear this and was thinking “God the landscape has changed.. she said she would find out where it was centred and call us back”... John & Justine had just got downstairs from their home, and were also in shock.. we went to a caravan parked on the property, and found a radio, and tried to find a station..snuggled under blankets with torches..Carol phoned and said “Don’t head to the hills..thats where it is centred.. its safe to go back home”.. so we waited untill daylight started to come, and then started to think about our elderly neighbours.. and decided to go back and check on everyone..
We did not have power, but we had gas.. so boiled water and put it in flasks for everyone.. keeping Pots for ourselves.. the aftershocks were coming thick and fast all day, making you feel quite sick.. my bowels were really upset..but I was too scared to go to the loo by myself.. there were so many different types of aftershocks, big bangy ones, shaky ones..all accompanied by that damn scary rumble.. the dog wanted to stay in the truck all day, there were no birds around.. and in the daylight you could see bushes and shrubs shaking..constantly.. We had no power, so had to leave the truck parked on lawn with radio going to get news reports. we phoned our insurance company & EQC.
It came out beautiful and sunny, we cleaned up the house in the daylight, we did not end up with any major structural damage..and only a few items broken..We went past the supermarket in Rolleston and it was a hive of activity.. so many people helping to clear up the mess..the stink was terrible.. sauces, wines and pickles..
Our power came on about 6pm.. we cooked tea for neighbours and friends, but as the dark closed in and aftershocks got bad, decided to head to Ashburton and stay with friends.. the 3 of us slept in one bed.. (hard to sleep)
I went back to work on the Monday, but decided to head south for a week.. as I was not coping with the constant aftershocks.. and Steve had to leave early every morning to go to work..and I just could not cope being at home alone..
Steve’s parents came up to look after Caitlin for the school holidays, and had thought I was overreacting to the aftershocks.. until they had been here for the week and felt a few hundred, including some scary 5.2s…Colin was quite relieved to go back to Invercargill.. and understood how I was so scared…and affected by them.. Life as you knew it had changed… I used to be quite cruisey and relaxed, very organised..but I just can’t totally feel relaxed now…. and will never take anything for granted again…
I needed counselling and sleeping tablets to help me sleep, and overcome the anxiety for a few months.. and was just starting to come alright when Feb 22nd happened…
We had just said goodbye on Monday 21st to our Inlaws Colin & Carol, who had been staying with us for a month, while Colin recovered from an operation & skin graft at Burwood hospital… the Fletchers painters were due to come in and start repainting the house on Tues 22nd Feb..
4 painters arrived at 8am, so I locked the dog in his Kennel for the day.. and joked to the guys to keep an eye on my 60 impala in the garage..(it had survived the 4th Sept Quake in a panel shop..having just come off axle stands the night before)
I went into the Star office in Tuam St, after dropping Caitlin at Weedons School.. I had a busy day planned, with appointments in the city, and lots of copy and bookings to follow up, My carpark is at the back of the building off Litchfield st.. The building is old but solid.. and I had felt safe there, especially as there had been nothing fall over or damaged in September or subsequent 5’s…
I had an appointment at 12pm with a client in Oxford Tce, (a reasonably new 7 story appartment building..luckily the ground floor was there office) I left my appointment at 12.35pm and drove down Litchfield, and decided to head to Bunrunners on Fitzgerald ave to get lunch before heading into the office.. I had loaded some bookings and was sitting at my desk having lunch, I noticed the managers were all in a board meeting with a video conference (which was quite noisy) when all of a sudden there was a sharp Jolt and noise.. as soon as it hit, I knew it was bad.. the shaking was really violent, the floor and concrete pillars were rising and falling, shaking from side to side, heaving sideways.. things started falling over, cabinets, ducts and tiles falling from the ceiling.. I did not feel safe getting under the desk so ran to the bosses office, and flung open the door and clung on for dear life.. praying for the rocking and rolling to stop.. and thinking please dont let this be it!!!.. I knew this had to be over a 6…as soon as the shaking stopped, I ran… outside..as I ran across the road and looked west towards the city, it was enveloped in a thick choking grey dust..like fog.. you could hear sirens, car alarms, building alarms.. and the sounds of people screaming, crying.. everyone was coming out of the mediteraanian cafe across the road, and people were shaking, consoling each other..
We all gathered and stood across the road..the power was out, the dust was choking.. and aftershocks were causing further panic..people were on phones trying to call loved ones.. and I realised I had left my phone, glasses car keys, bag in the office.. one of my co workers went back to get it.. We met in our front carpark, but liquifaction was starting to come up out of the ground, in big cracks, and humps and bumps.. the boss said to go home.. and check on family… so I had to go through the VTNZ building next door to get to my car in Litchfield st… water was coming out of our building and flowing into their building.. One of their workers asked if I was oK.. and I said I was, but needed to get home to pick up my daughter..(I thought it must have been the Alpine Fault).. I got to my car which was surrounded by water, and drove out and got into traffic on Barbadoes st… I remember driving past the Catholic Cathedral, seeing it broken on the ground.. and panicking.. couldnt find a radio station.. and traffic was gridlocked, cars and police trying to get into the city.. I remember being stopped at lights outside McDonalds on Moorhouse, waiting to turn into Gasson St, as a really bad aftershock hit..Kids standing outside were Hysterical..screaming and crying.. people in cars were crying, and making calls.. I still couldn’t contact my husband.. it took ages to get onto the motorway south.. with no traffic lights working.. I remember getting to Curletts road lights and they were working, so took back road, around Wigram to get home, picked up Caitlin from school and arrived home…The painters were all still there, and said the car was OK, nothing damaged.. and to ring my Mother In law.. but I couldnt get a call out..sent texts, instead.. I Said to the painters that they should go.. that town was stuffed.. they did not believe me.. until we turned on the TV.. and saw the carnage.. Steve arrived home.. and I decided to take Caitlin to Invercargill again, and we stopped at my sisters in Timaru the night of 22nd.. ... as painters were going to be here all week..
We drove south, and there were lines of traffic.. the only cars heading north that we were passing were Army buses, unimogs, police, fire engines.. red cross… ambulance after ambulance… I was listening to the radio all the way, and it was so sad..I was crying..it hurts so much to see our city in tatters, to know friends I have worked with are missing.. now confirmed dead (CTV), but I was heartened by the resiliance as groups set up networks to get help to people..
Life has changed forever for us all, Our city lies sad and ruined.. and in the future will rise again, more beautiful than ever..we have lost so much, but have learned to value life.. and to support each other.. I hope our people will return in time..life is slowly getting back to normal for some.. I still have not been across town to Sumner or Eastern sides, and I hate seeing the desolate, broken central city.. while life out west is normal…