Yesterday there was an earthquake in my home city of Christchurch. I’ve been touched by the emails from readers asking if I’m OK and sending their prayers and well wishes. Thank you for thinking of me.
I am obviously OK as I’m writing this, and out of the city now.
Last night I wrote an account of what happened to a friend in an email and posted it on Facebook. I have also copied it below.
The Day I’ve Had
It happened around midday – I was making my lunch (or brunch) and the building started shaking, and I thought it was another aftershock, as we get lots of those from the earthquake that was in September. But then glass started to smash, things came out of the cupboards and fell on me, the TV fell off, everything came off shelves, pictures off walls. Then I got scared and knew it was not going to be a regular aftershock.
It was incredibly violent. I was just waiting for the building to collapse (I live on the ground floor of an apartment block). I feel lucky to be alive because my building was shaking so violently, by the time it finished I was more surprised I wasn’t buried in rubble.
The ceiling and walls were moving and someone who was in the car park below said the pillars which hold up the building were moving around too much and he thought they would give way. But they didn’t.
It was silent for a moment after it finished, then I could hear the sirens. I went outside which was embarrassing because I was still in my PJs. There was a massive dust cloud that looked like buildings had collapsed (it was a bit 9/11 – esque).
Some pavements had turned to mud with the liquefaction, there was water gushing everywhere. The smell of smoke from buildings that caught fire. I ran down the street in my PJs to check on a friend who worked at a cafe nearby and the road started flooding. I got wet but was too scared to go back in to get dressed. I stood on the corner of the street with other people from my building and we were all in shock and shaking. Someone lent me their coat.
Everyone got into their cars when it happened so it looked like some of the ambulances couldn’t get to the injured. There were people coming past on makeshift stretchers and what looked like covered dead bodies on the back of a truck.
I didn’t know what to do, felt so useless.
Then my brothers turned up, and we decided to get out of the city. We walked East and went down a main street in the centre that seemed OK. Looking around we saw how lucky we had been because so many buildings were collapsed, looking down streets we could see a crushed bus and helicopters and fire trucks. A man on a bike warned us not to go down the street as it was too dangerous, but other people were doing it, so we thought it’d be OK. Then a big aftershock struck and it was terrifying, we were cowering in the middle of the road, while more buildings and glass fell around us, people screaming, I was screaming at my brothers to get into the middle of the road and clinging to a man I didn’t know.
We ran back in a panic and the man on the bike said ‘Didn’t get very far, did ya?’
The city was eery like a ghost town by that point.
A friend got his car and tried to drive to my brother’s house, which took us a few hours even though it was only a mile and a half away. Going through the suburbs showed us flooded streets just like on the news in Brisbane last month and devastation that is so widespread I’ve never seen anything like it. Cracks in the road everywhere you look, kerbs that have come of pavements, every other house has a fallen wall, chimney, or a collapsed garage, if it hasn’t collapsed altogether. We had to cover our mouths to protect from the smoke that was coming from a building on fire.
I went to a friend’s house, then went back home to collect my belongings quickly. The building was still moving every now and again, which was terrifying for us. I fortunately managed to squeeze my car out of the electric gate from the underground car park (there was no power) and left for Blenheim which is 4-5 hours away. I can still hear the sound of my building shaking in my ears and feel like I’m on a boat. I drove for five hours tonight, kept awake by pure adrenaline.
I think I will be moving out of the city following this, Christchurch is going to be a war zone for a long time, as it’s so devastated.
Hi Anna, you had it rough being in the CBD. Glad youre in Blenheim and I dont have to worry about you. Im trying to sleep but sleep wont come.
I am so thankful you are alright. The news here in Sydney’s been covering it all day, and all the devastation… I can’t even imagine how traumatic that must be to live through.
From what I hear it sounds to be a good thing you’re not in there – been hearing about flooding, water shortages, emergency services, people being dug out…
I hope you feel better soon.
Thank you for taking the time to share with us that you’re safe and well.
Wow! I didn’t even know it happened. So glad you are all right and out of the city.
I saw what happened on the news here in Sweden and I immediately thought of you. So happy to hear that you are ok although you´ve been through a lot. Sending lots of healing energy and love all the way from my corner of the world.
It’s good to hear you’re safe and sound Anna.
I happy that you are ok,
hope things will get more calm for you and you will find a new place which is safer.
So glad you are safe and well. Thank you for letting us know you are alright.
Sending you love and a big hug.
Anna, that is so scary to have to live through. I remember my California earthquakes and it’s such an odd feeling to have the very earth move below you and literally having nowhere to go that’s reliable. Very glad to hear you and your brothers are safe and prayers for those who were not.
Wow that’s terrible, glad to hear you’re all right!
My thoughts and prayers go out to you, your family, and everyone in your community.
Sending you thoughts of love and strength to help you through this time.
I’m so glad you are ok, my goodness what a blessing, i cannot imagine what it must have been like, i have felt our apartment in Milano moving from side to side when there were earthquakes in other parts of Italy and it felt really wierd but nothing as drastic as what you have gone through.
Glad to hear you’re OK!
I’m so glad you’re safe Anna! Sending wishes and prayers to everyone in Christchurch!
Anna, as soon as I saw the news about the earthquake I thought of you! I’m really happy you’re safe and sound!!
It’s strange because about a week ago I had a dream of being in an earthquake in a building and looking down from the window to see a huge dust cloud in the distance and flooding on the streets below. Not sure if there’s any connection at all 😮
My thoughts go out to you and everyone there, stay strong!
What vivid imagery…intense and terrifying! I live in a part of the world where earthquakes are practically part of the landscape. Last year in March we experienced one that felt as though the ground would open up and swallow us all. It was indeed a traumatizing experience, but the building structures here are mostly one level and on the surface, so we rarely see damage as devastating as the photos I’ve seen coming out of Christchurch.
Sent prayers your way today. Good to hear you are safe, Anna. Hang in there!
Wow didn’t realise you were in the middle of all this and affected by it all..
Sounds terrifying but good to hear that you’re alright and safe. All the best
Glad to hear you are alright Anna. Thank you for sharing about your intense experience!
About six years ago, I was attending college in New Orleans during the Katrina disaster. A friend and I evacuated the city just before the storm hit. Of course, when I finally returned to New Orleans after flooding had died down things were so strange and different. It’s so odd and sad to see that amount of destruction in your home city.
I’m sending prayers of support, healing and love to you, your family and all the people affected by this.
Be well, Anna!
I am so glad to hear you are alright! Sending good thoughts to you, your family and your hometown.
Glad you’re okay Anna. Thinking of you, your family, and everyone affected by the earthquake. Catrionaxxx
Anna, big hug to you, and much love. <3
I just wanted to say thank you for all the kind comments, thoughts and prayers that have been sent my way this past week. I do appreciate it. What lovely readers this blog has.
I have found a new home and shaking off the effects of the earthquake day by day.
yay! so glad to hear it.
So glad you are doing well. I can’t say that I did hear about this particular earthquake though I don’t hear much news.
Anna I thought the link might interest you.
Ok I was just reading this article and wondering when this earthquake occurred so I did a google search even before reading the replies above my post and found that there was another 4.3 today. Here is the information I was given.