Second Earthquake

Last Tuesday started out the same as any other Tuesday, I had busy schedule planned, the friendly Public Hospital had called, ‘Could I return to give another blood test?’ I took advantage of this, and at the same time squeezed in a visit to see David Tyson while at he Hospital. David was my bedmate during my stay. Then a quick stop at a Service Station to fill up which was most fortunate. I then crossed over town to spend an hour or so with Laura. I left her early as I had an appointment with her hairdresser. I needed to pay her, and arrange for a hospital visit to cut Laura’s hair.


I had reached the main door of laura’s ward at exactly 12-51pm. At this moment, thousands upon thousands of Christchurch’s citizens lives were changed forever. I was flung around like a rag doll, and very glad I wasn’t in town, or even at home where the shock was much worse. I knew exactly what was happening, goodness me we have had about two thousand of what is loosely called ‘after shocks’. This one clearly was different, other quakes didn’t roar like this one was doing. It stopped as suddenly as it had started, I have no idea how long it went for, but in a short period it trashed most of Christchurch’s business, as well as my home, I didn’t know this at the time, as I still had to make my journey across town. What an experience that was was too. Immediately the shaking stopped I ran back into the Hospital calling out to each room as I passed, ‘Everyone OK?’. The only problem seemed to be was broken glass, but no one was injured. I still had no idea of what had happened in town, putting it down to ‘Just another ‘after shock.’


Once I had Laura settled, I now realise I couldn’t have been thinking straight, as I again headed out for the appointment I had with the hairdresser. On the road it slowly dawned on me, that this quake was much more serious than the usual ones we had been getting on a regular basis. All traffic lights were out. Roads were clogged with people trying to get somewhere. Every other house had people clustered outside. I found out later that were too scared to return inside. The road was damaged with mud and sand boiling up through holes and trapping some cars. Many just abandoned their vehicles and walked. As I neared home I noticed large cracks on the road. And nearer still, some homes had lost all their cladding, whether it be block or brick. On arrival, the garage door wouldn’t open, so that meant no electricity. Once inside the sight that greeted me was one of utter disaster. I couldn’t get up the stairs, the beautiful grandfather clock was now in pieces from top to bottom. Everything that could fall down, had fallen down. I thought the September quake was bad, but this one was ten times worse. Wrenched the heat store from the wall, it overturned every thing, computer, TV radio, bookcases. Emptied every cupboard and smashed it onto the floor. It even broke the cook top. Looking out towards the town I could see it was covered by a pall of brown smoke, which was an ominousness sign as it turned out. This was actually dust from the collapsed buildings. I knew then that there was going to be some serious casualties.


About this time Rod turned up with a solicitor who worked along side him. Both in their suits, but covered in dust. They had sheltered under their desks as the ceiling tiles rained down. When Rod hit the street, he was stopped by a woman who wanted assistance to get her partner out of their campervan. He said he reached in under the bricks that had hit their van, but got no pulse. The poor guy was dead. It was remarkable how members of the public reacted and saved other people. The solicitor had his car in a nearby parking building and along with eveyone else their cars are still there. We took him home, and unbelievably his home was untouched.


Rod took me home with him, he had all services at his home apart from the phone. One by one we accounted for all of the family, but Rod had a couple of Japanese Students staying with him, and they didn’t return. So he went out on a hunt and found them remarkably, both seeking refuge in Hagley Park. Unfortunately many other Japan students were in the language school that collapsed. On arrival at Rod’s I was met by Hillary who immediately burst into tears. She had been caught in a ward under the Hospital doing a mercy mission, and was still suffering from shock.


Lynn was home when the quake struck she ran outside and clung to her letter box. Very soon she had four other neighbours alongside. One was a catholic and she kept reciting the rosary. ‘Hail Mary full of grace….’ About this time a lab dog turned up, that no one knew who it belonged to and it huddled alongside. I had to smile when I took Rod and Gareth up to her home to set their heat store up right, as it was too heavy for Mark to do alone. Her bed was a make shift affair, about three metres from the front door.


Everyone has a story to tell. Our heart goes out to all those who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.



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