4.35am 4 September 2010 – we leapt out of bed when a 7.1 earthquake rattled Canterbury.
It was three years ago today. My daughter is now four and looking back makes me remember how small and vulnerable she was.
I was the last to arrive in the doorway for shelter, I don’t remember being covered in books.
Our chimney came down, like most Christchurch chimneys did.
The sun wasn’t up yet, and we took turns nipping round the corner to see the shops fallen into Victoria Street.
In the morning, the petrol stations went mad.
The neighbour’s chimney was all Jenga-ed.
The clean up began, as chimneys were loaded up and building fixed and secured.
In the days that followed, our neighbourhood was a busy place for the wrecking ball.
Robertson’s Bakery demolition was astonishing, especially when they gracefully picked out the chandelier.
Saggio di vino was a No Go.
After 4 September, Durham Street Methodist Church was fenced off.
It collapsed in the 22 February 2011 earthquake. Sadly Neil Stocker, Paul Dunlop and Scott Lucy were inside; they were recovering a pipe organ from the church.
My quake story
I lived in the central city close to Victoria Street. When the quake struck, my partner went to rescue our baby . He stood with her in the doorway, and I ended up there too but have no recollection of how I got there. The bookshelves had fallen across the bed but missed me since I’m so short.
A few objects fell down in the house, but the kitchen was almost untouched, except for a container of oil which left a big oil slick on the floor.
After the initial drama of getting out of the house we made contact with their neighbours in the other three flats. When we had calmed a bit, we began to venture around the neighbourhood. Around the corner, the Daily Bagel building had collapsed on to the street.
We never lost power and were without water for only a short time. The flat became a gathering point for friends who came to charge phones and use the internet. The day turned into a strange social event with people sitting outside drinking beer, and stiff whiskies from our neighbour Kevin.
I have no recollection of how the quake sounded, even thought the chimney had come down outside our bedroom. Rosary House next door had a very large water tank and for a while afterwards all I could hear was a really loud, strange, slosh, slosh, slosh.
That day and the next day, we gathered extra batteries and torches, secured bookshelves and tidied up the house. Having our wee girl was a distraction – normal things like feeding her needed to go on. Even though you are fearful for your child, they are a way of not thinking about the bad things. She loved the distraction and interest of lots of people around.
I was quick to get in touch with Mum, who was on her own at home. Dad was in Dunedin and immediately hitched a ride back on a truck – probably the only person trying to get to Christchurch!
In the days that followed, we grappled with what to do next. I felt so unsafe, that I was afraid that if we went, it would be hard to come back. So we stayed, and worked through it.
There are times the days and months between 4 September 2010 and 22 February 2011 become a blur, and it isn’t clear what happened when. But September I remember as the time we were shaken awake and the world burst into something new. Into #eqnz, EQC, yes – and aftershocks so constant I was throwing up in a combination of seasickness and fear. And a kind of ballsiness and camaraderie that made Christchurch like London during the blitz.
This could be like the Blitz but I can’t be arsed putting on red lipstick or singing Lili Marlene. It’s jammie pants and pasty face #eqnz
- Gotta love you Twitter, you’ve given us a big laugh at argument between #christchurchquake via #eqnz.
- @lytteltonian Good to hear, hope you’re all bearing up. We are beering up drinking Peroni in the sun at my place @moatatamaira Paul S et al
- Kia kaha Christchurch! Our chimney’s down. Daily Bagel building on Victoria Street has facade in the street. #eqnz http://twitpic.com/2kwmzz
- @juhasaarinen Our chimney is down, house trashed, and round the corner a cafe is all over the street.
- @juhasaarinen Bowels and nerves severely tested, but doing ok thanks. We are the lucky ones who still have power & water (so far)
- Big old aftershock woke bubba #eqnz #christchurch #earthquake
- We’re tuned in, good work RT @RNZ_SatMorning If you are in Christchurch tune to RADIO NEW ZEALAND National on 675AM or 101.7FM
- Just got a txt that cellphone towers might run out of battery power in 60 mins, so don’t panic if it happens #eqnz #christchurch #earthquake
- My grandad was in school classroom for the Napier quake in 1931, my dad and family in the Inangahua in 1968 #christchurchquake #eqnz
- My guy just helped nuns get into Rosary House on Dublin St, Mary statue on the ground intact, but had lost her halo #christchurchquake #eqnz
- My Dad is in Dunedin & has hitched a ride to Christchurch on a big delivery truck to get home to Mum. That’s love. #eqnz #christchurchquake
- My bedroom is on MSN, forgot to check if anything incriminating in shot http://news.msn.co.nz/glance/7956107/earthquake-hits-christchurch
- Just felt a cold shiver down my spine thinking OpShop, The Feelers etc might do a charity song for Christchurch. #eqnz #christchurchquake
- Quakezone, Ghost town – New names for Christchurch via the media. Ok so we’re either a vid game or a Specials song.
- The cats haven’t returned post quake, hope they are out there somewhere getting well fed and pampered.
- It seems like liquefaction applies to bowels as well as the ground. That was a horrible night #eqnz #thebigqueasy