As most will now know, Christchurch (my home town) had a major earth quake on Tuesday 22nd February 2011.

There are many great resources on the net, and I don’t intend to duplicate them, just tell my story.

(Aside: More typos than usual in this post I am sure.  I just wanted to get it out there while I had the generator running.)

In case you are after more info here’s some great resource sites:

  • GeoNet (shows quakes history, location, size etc)
  • Canterbury Earthquake (up to date info for locals)  Everything from water, to petrol station info, to updates on repairs.
  • For Government Welfare/grants: Call 0800 77-99-97

There is also plenty of good news coverage:

Anyway, what’s my story?

First and foremost, I am safe.  My family is safe, my pets are even safe. Both my house, and where I work is very close to the epicenter of this quake.  I live in Sumner, which was hit very hard.  But luckily I live on a hill made out of rock, and a house made out of metal (yep I said metal, that’s what the walls are made of).  So, while I had almost every glass, plate and bowl I own smashed, and motorbikes tipped over, and garage shelves emptied onto the floor, the house is fine, nothing structural that I can tell.  No cracks even.

Still no power (although fixed that with a diesel generator), still no water through the taps (bottled water does the trick for now), so life is far from normal.  Driving a trip to get something like food or petrol takes me 3 hours round trip (normally would be 15 min).  Partly coz I need to go further (nothing on my side of town open yet), but mainly coz of major traffic jams, as so many roads are closed.

Work is a different story.  Will be a MAJOR mess.  Busted fish tank, computers everywhere (smashed) but looks like everything that is vital is still OK, and we hope to be back in their Monday, and back up and running (even if it is remotely) some time next week.  Lucky we have UPS back ups for things like the alarm and other essential services.  That will last a few more days, and power is expected on tonight.

What’s clear to many that survive the quake along with their friends and family is that despite all the busted homes and work places, it’s just stuff.  I say that with all my heart.  I lost 100+ bottles of wine – so what? I will buy some more.  I lost dozens of glasses and plates – big deal, Briscoes has them on sale next week I am sure.  My bike fell on the ground and needs a new indicator – so what?, it’s called order a new one. All that matters at a time like this is that me, my family, my friends, (and yes, my pets too), are safe.  Everything else is just stuff.   I am not going to pretend I know what it’s like to lose a close family member or friend from an earthquake – coz I didn’t lose any.  But I do know I am lucky, and my family and friends were too.

I will share one last thing with you – where I was when the quake hit.  I was at the gym.

Just got out of the shower, walking in my towel towards the locker area.  I was thrown from side to side in the corridor (it hit REAL quick, so no build up warning), and then I remember thinking “oh fuck this is big” and then saw the ceiling beginning to split way from the wall above me.  I ran for the locker and I remember thinking my sense of self preservation and my sense of modesty were fighting each other (remember I was naked other than a towel).  By now the 1st wave of the quake had stopped, and the building was standing, so a quick decision was to put on trousers and then leave REAL QUICK.  So I did that – threw all my stuff in my gym bag, and grabbed my shoes and socks and ran for the door.

But the escape from the gym by road was just as unnerving.  As we (me and a friend from the gym, he was driving) drove away from the gym the road turned to a river real quick (a river of sewerage, we could smell it!).  Cars dived headfirst into newly created pot holes that swallowed the front of the car.  Anyone in the car scrambled to get out.  I figured they were doing us a service, as anyone behind them now knew to drive around.  We go over this quickly when the car in front dived forward and was trapped.  We went 90 degrees, and drive though the local supermarkets garden (thanks Countdown!) and went for high ground.  By now the river was almost a foot deep, and only a few cm below the doors of many cars.  After 30 or so minutes we found an escape, and after grouping together 3 other cars, we went in convoy to try to get back towards town (in our case towards Opawa – only 1km up the road).  That took us some 30 minutes as 75% of the roads were impassable due to similar issues – sewerage flowing across the road, and massive potholes (and the two put together means we couldn’t see the potholes!).  Anyway, made it back to work to see the damage, which was severe, and then spent the next 4 hours TRYING to get home.  Didn’t work, since all roads to my place closed.  Picked up (well, almost rescued, since his place was demolished) another friend, and went to his mates place.  The rest is history.

I do also want to say, it very clear the Richter scale doesn’t work.  This 6.3 did WAY more damage and far more violent that the 7.1, and it wasn’t just coz it was closer. It was shallower, and hit areas that rebounded off low bedrock.  Anyway – my new earthquake scale I invented a few months back worked much better.  Most agreed it was a very clear FUCK ZONE around most of Christchurch that day! (read the post if that doesn’t make sense).

Black and White Version: I am fine, so are my family, friends and pets.  Lots of stuff broken.  But it’s only stuff.

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