Friday, February 25, 2011

Trying to put it into words

February 22, Christchurch city, earthquake

When the quake struck I was in the car with the kids on the way to music. We were sitting at the lights on Barbadoes St. The sound was incredible, both the noise of the earthquake itself and of the falling buildings. I like to think I'm a pretty calm kind of person, but what we saw and experienced really shook me to the core (pun not intended). People streaming out of the city centre, crying, helping each other along, some dusty and/or bleeding. All I could think of was 'what if' the whole time we were trying to get out of there... if Big Brother hadn't been being a sh*t we were going to The Crossing for lunch before music - we would have been in the car park building or on Lichfield St, where we would have been very lucky indeed to get out uninjured. Just a very few minutes later and we would have been on Tuam / Madras where, if we'd avoided being hit by the debris there is no way we would have got out in the car. As I watched the ground splitting open around us and then the water / silt come spewing out I was planning what to do if the car got stuck or began to sink - how to get the kids out, where to go, how to get there, what to do next. Likewise as the dust and smoke began to drift over us, I was trying to work out what to do if it got too thick to breathe. As we crept past buildings I was just hoping like hell they wouldn't collapse as we passed. Meanwhile I was trying to contact C, find out where he was and get to him. Fortunately the kids were awesome because I'm not sure what I could have done if they'd panicked. In many ways the slow creep up Barbadoes St to get out was good because by the time I got to the end I'd stopped shaking and was thinking a little more clearly. Our city is never going to be the same again, and neither will the people living through it. The images on TV bring me close to tears every time I see them, and I've no idea why anyone would want to go back into the city centre to 'sight see' without legitimate purpose. This is 100 or even 1000 times worse than the first one... it's life changing.

The offers of help have been amazing, friends from around the country and the world have offered a place to stay and whatever other help they can, and it was so touching that so many people wanted to track us down and check that we were ok. We are ok - our house is ok, we have power and water, and access to family with showers and toilets, but so many people are not. It's amazing to see the people mobilising to help out where they can, and quite inspiring to see how communities are pulling together get through.

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