Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Earthquake (Updated Feb. 24th)

So if you havn't heard yet, there was a massive earthquake in Christchurch yesterday at 12:51 pm. As far as I know it was a 6.3, between 10 and 1 km deep (I've heard different stories) and it hit Littleton, about 10 km south/west away from where we've been living.

John and I are both safe and healthy and now far from Christchurch.

So I'll tell my side of the story and I'll let John tell his.
I had just gotten home from a job interview downtown, parked the car on the street and was walking across the backyard. Neil and Linley (our landlords) and another man (who had just come down from working on the roof) were sitting at the picnic table under a tree.
It's really hard to explain how it felt but the quake started. I realized when looking at everyone's faces that this was a really scary earthquake. I stumbled over to them crouched under the tree and held on as best I could. It was really hard to focus my eyes on anything but the sound of the house shaking and the cement walkway cracking was pretty scary. I saw a crack form the yard in front of me and when the world stopped throwing us about water and silt started flowing from the crack in the ground.
The brick house beside ours had totally crumbled. We ran to the street where we saw massive cracks and warps in the road. People driving trying to avoid all the new obstacles. I got a call from john then, only seconds after the shaking ended. He was fine, I was fine, he was going to try and get to me.
I ran into the apartment to find it pretty demolished though others had gotten it worse in our building for sure. I grabbed my violin and Johns iMac and put them in the trunk.
I got in the car with Neil and Linley who thought it would be best if we all went to their place which was farther from tall brick buildings. In retrospect I should have left a note for John at the apartment telling him where I was going but luckily he got through to me from his work phone when I was in the car on the way to their place. John walked from his work and we met up and Neil and Linley's.
We stayed there for a while in the street through some big aftershocks then decided to walk back to the apartment and get the car.
The roads were crazy, water, silt and sewage everywhere. We saw cars stuck in mounds of silt, traffic lights were out, bridges were closed.
Back at the apartment John (he wouldn't let me in the building)emptied our apartment of our things. We were lucky in not having accumulated many things compared to some of our neighbors who had been living there for many years.
Erin, a neighbor and fellow Canadian came home and also started to scavenge her apartment. Her husband, Steven, was in Dunedin and wasn't supposed to be back until the evening so we waited with her and her cats until Steven arrived around 10:00pm. We then left the city. Drove South for a few hours. We were invited to stay with Neil and Linley but we didn't want to be indoors in Christchurch while the aftershocks continued. So we drove for a few hours trying to find a hotel or something but all we found was "no vacancy" over and over. So we parked in front of a cafe and slept in the car.
Got up this morning and drove here, to Dunedin. We're staying in a hostel, we have warm beds, we've taken showers, John has finally been able to wash the silt off his feet from walking sock foot to Neils, we have food in our bellies, and we're far from the aftershocks.
Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. Keep praying for the people of Christchurch.



So you've heard from Katie,
My version is from a couple miles away on the edge of the City Center. It was my second day at work and had started helping customers and was getting to know my fellow co-workers. A nice guy I work with was talking to me about finding work in New Zealand and when I mentioned how Katie was looking for work he rang his friend whose a manager in the city center and within minutes Katie had an interview downtown. I let her know and she got it a bit late but headed into town to meet with the manager. At 12:05 I took my lunch and Katie came to the store to meet me. We sat in the car and I had my sandwich until about 12:40 or so.. Katie and I were together just 10 minutes before it hit.

She left for home and I went back to talking with customers. Standing by the door I was talking with a nice man about iPads when the earthquake hit. He went crazy and ran through the door pulling the glassdoors apart within seconds. I'll never forget the sound of the walls and floors crashing around and shaking glass. I stumbled out the door after my customer and ended up holding onto a metal post in the parking lot as the quake slowed.

I tried to figure out how big this really was as I've never been in an earthquake, though I knew we'd experience one coming to Christchurch. (Not this devastating though). I looked around at a smashed store, at the street torn apart, and my co-workers huddled under the display desks inside. Car alarms were going off everywhere and people started pouring out of the store. People screaming to get out and everyone with their cell phones out.

Knowing phones, power, water, and traffic would all be shit I got on a landline and called Katie. Every ring was one too many but she picked up and told me she was ok. I've never been so scared as waiting to hear her voice. We checked in and I told her to stay (I figured I could get a ride from someone or walk home). We all checked in with each other at work and were trying to calm down when water and sand/silt started pouring out from all over the place, the floors, the trees, the cracks everywhere. At first you think its sewage cause of the smell but then it turns a dark color.

I called Katie again and was able to get through to find out she had left with our landlord and was headed for their home. I grabbed my stuff and a girls coat and bag who would not go back inside, and started off to find Katie. Running through water/sewage/silt water I had to back track to get across the roads and past buildings with broken windows. Running through the streets I saw people crying, people trapped in buildings trying to get out and broken glass or collapsed buildings everywhere. I got lost of course since we'd only driven there once, but ended up getting my bearings and finding Katie. The rest you know..

We're now in Dunedin staying with a woman named Charlotte who posted online for people to stay with her. I somehow feel bad leaving behind so many people and the few friends we have there, but I don't think I would feel safe with all the aftershocks going on. What to do now.. Where to live? you ask yourself these questions once and then two weeks later you're doing it again but this time its because everything you've set up is gone. Its been hard to be positive but we're trying and moving forward. thanks so much for everyone's concern and emails. We'll have more updates soon.

Our once beautiful apartment


The street outside the apartment

The house next door


  1. What a story and an amazing ordeal and certainly makes the stuff we worry about, pale in comparison. You must still be so upset and trying to wrap your mind around how quickly your adventure in a new place, turned into a nightmare. We are sending hugs and hugs to you. Love, Aunt Marty

  2. Geez . . . I just don't know what to say. When I heard about the quake in Christchurch on the news I thought of you guys immediately. Just glad you're safe. If there's anything I can do to help, just let me know - seriously.

    Take care, and thanks for keeping us updated!

  3. Stay safe you guys - our thoughts and prayers are with you. So glad you are okay. Must have been so scary to witness.

  4. wow! Happy you and John...and the violin are ok! I hope no one was badly hurt.
    Hi Katie!!!

  5. wow what a scare!Im soooo glad you are both ok...god was really looking out for you:)...I hope everything goes much better in this new area...love ya