I apologise in advance if this post is even more muddled and confused than usual. I am very tired but felt compelled to write something about todays events.
I was awoken just after 4.30 this morning by a significant earthquake. Unless you have experienced such an event it is difficult to describe the feeling of such an event. The house was moving dramatically, joints creaking, it is very noisy. Startled from sleep I did what I should not have done and got up from my bed to check on my children – I challenge any parent to not to the same.
I don’t recall how long the quake lasted, it seemed like an eternity, it was very strong and the waves were sharp. Pictures and ornaments were thrown about. When it finally stopped I took my children to my room and settled them down. They took it remarkably well, better perhaps than I. I collected torches and did a quick check of the house which by this time was in complete darkness, the power was out as was the water as I learned later. The damage was not too bad some pictures down and a few broken bits and pieces (glass) which required some care to clean up before moving about in the living room. CDs and books were scattered about.
We didn’t get back to sleep and got up soon after to huddle together under duvets while a series of aftershocks shook the house. The aftershocks have continued throughout most of the day and it seems likely that more will happen over night. It was cold but beautiful as I found when I went outside in my dressing gown to see how the street looked; there were a number of other people out and about doing the same thing, talking to friends and neighbours in the street or talking to relatives on mobiles. They like us lit candles and looked out emergency supplies stored for just such an event.
As the sun came up, bright and beautiful and with not a cloud in the sky it became apparent how much damage had been done in Selwyn district (the epicentre of the quake) and within Christchurch city and apparently within my own town of Kaiapoi. The common factor appears to be the type of soil through parts of the town and city – sandy/silty brought down from the mountains by the local rivers. The soil liquified which has caused great damage to many homes and buildings in Christchurch and along the Kaiapoi river areas.
Since we had no power and since it was warmer outside in the Spring sunshine I took my kids for a walk into town. At first nothing seemed to be damaged but as we got closer to Kaiapoi town centre we started to see the effects of the quake. Chimneys that had fallen through roofs, walls collapsed and roads closed. The main bridge across the river in Kaiapoi is closed (and may be for some time) with great cracks running across both ends. The area looked just like the classic scenes from earthquake movies with zigzag cracks running down the road, sections of paving sunk into the ground or lifted up.
The footbridge across the river was closed – it was snapped in the span and now looks more like an M than a footbridge.
Towards the small town of Pines Beach the road was completely shattered, lifted and twisted, the forces required would have been hard to imagine had I not just experienced them first hand.
Kaiapoi is a mess as are parts of Christchurch but what a job the Civil Defence, Emergency services, power and utilities companies have done. Our power was back my midday and water later in the afternoon. I am very grateful to them for their work in what must be difficult circumstances and thankful that the weather today was so fine that it made their job a bit easier.
Tomorrow we are due storms and rain, no doubt that will be the end of more buildings already damaged by the earthquake. We have been lucky, no injuries, little damage and none of consequence, others have not been so fortunate with many homes and businesses destroyed. Many people are still without power or water or both and who knows what tomorrow may bring.