I was going to surprise you all in a few days by taking you on a new Kiwidutch “tour”.. one that we are on at present as we have headed to the Southern Hemisphere to spend Christmas with family and friends.
I’ve been preparing the posts and photos already with just a little time delay… but yesterday that surprise went out of the window when we were overtaken with bigger surprises of the Mother Nature variety.
In the tour sequence you will eventually arrive in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, but we are already there on 23rd December 2011 and this is the day that Himself, Kiwi Daughter and Little Mr felt their first earthquakes.
No one could have missed them because they were huge… There were a whole swarm of rather major earthquakes early afternoon, (a.m. if you are in the Northern Hemisphere) the first one was a BIG rolling and rumbling one of about 20 seconds duration while I was trying to hang out laundry in the back yard (I had a seat next to me to hang onto) but during the quake I was desperately trying instead to grab the crutches and go find the kids…
… I didn’t have much success until the shaking stopped.
Kiwi Daughter was alone in the downstairs bedroom starting to draw pictures and Little Mr. was upstairs taking a plate back to the kitchen, R. was at the bottom of the stairs. Both kids got the fright of their lives.
Himself had finished painting the fence at the house we own in Papanui with my cousin P. and was in the rental car on his way back here… he’s never felt a quake before so he didn’t actually realise he was in one, he thought there was something wrong with the steering and was trying to pull over, but the car didn’t want to respond …
…then it all got ok again so he drove on and he only realised it must have been a quake when he saw hundreds of shoppers being evacuated into the car park of the big Mall at Northlands…
Himself was also still in the car when first aftershock hit a few minutes later but was back with me comforting the kids when the next big one hit a while later so it was the third big one that he actually “felt” as his first real earthquake.
Nothing serious, though, no liquefaction and no real damage. Electricity stayed on which is more than can be siad for large swathes of the city especially in the eastern suburbs.
Yesterday Friends of our had a BBQ planned for tonight and said Please still come: it would help everyone most if they all carried on as much as possible as normal.
We went and had a good time, Little Mr was clingy and scared but played outside with Lego in the end… I keep feeling wee shocks and don’t mention it to the kids, no big ones last evening while we were out though but there is every chance of something above 5 magnitude in the next few days.. that’s been the pattern every other time.
They come in clusters.
Turns out that there was another big shock that happened early evening but we were’in the car on our way to our friends place on the other side of the city and amazingly didn’t even feel that one.
(Fortunate actually because Little Mr was rather distressed by the end of the afternoon and Kiwi Daughter was also a mess but was just hiding the fact significantly better).
The friends where we went for the BBQ lost a fishtank (but saved the fish) and gained more cracks in their already badly damaged home, Thanking God yet again that everyone is ok and trying to laugh, but this cluster will be the last straw from some people who thought things were calming down finally since there hasn’t been too much for a while now… whooooooo,… short sharp jolt shook the house as I typed that last sentence.
Lots of people injured by stress accidents… car prangs, panic and heart attacks etc no deaths that I know of… Sumner and Redcliff suburb reports look like more cliff came down, (we were there three days ago) big evacuation of residents in the area below, liquefaction in the east of the city is bad and power is off for about 1/3 of the city… it always seems to stay on ok in the area where we are and luckily hasn’t gone out for any of the big quakes so far.
I emailed friends and family last night: ” We expect things to be unsettled for a .. whhooo another shock, and a rumble..still going … gonna be an interesting night, I’m not scared but the light is on as I type in bed… might be a different story half asleep and in the pitch dark
Then we will see exactly how big a wimp I really am”.
Damage reports are still coming in…some red stickered buildings marked for demolition (were cordoned off) have come down yesterday afternoon, it seems we will know more tomorrow… whee another kick… rock and roll!
Kiwi Daughter is in the double bed next to me, Little Mr is sharing with Himself in the double in the other room… she just slept through the lot. So far so good. No peep from the boys room either… even better. Little Mr. (now a.k.a. Little Mr. Limpet) will take some calming down he’s really on edge.
My Aunt and uncle who live in two streets down from where we are staying have more breakages as stuff exited the cupboards this afternoon and are quite shaken up (we drove round to see if we could help out)
whooo more rolling ….. oi, and a thump… still going maybe 15 seconds, but just a little one, feels like a boat docking at the wharf and coming alongside the dock way too hard.. we are just missing the water bit.
The house is making creaking noises and there are so many smaller rumbles that I’ve lost count, but they are just hiccups rather than the coughs of the big ones. …better sign off and try to sleep (yeah right)”
Kiwi Daughter said yesterday afternoon “ok I’ve felt earthquakes now, we know what it’s like, Can we switch them off now?” (sigh) with around 10. 000 aftershocks since the 7.1 quake in September 2010, everyone here in Christchurch is just wishing it would be so easy.
We have emailed family and friends back in the Netherlands so they know we are ok. We have two scared kids but we are fortunate… they get to go back home to quake-free Nederland after our holiday, we are staying in a house that has been 98% damage-free though all the quakes that have hit Christchurch so far and Himself and I at least feel totally safe.
We have friends and relatives who have been on the phone as soon as the system was back up to check if we were ok. Even the neighbours of the house where were are staying, knowing that we are not locals, came to check that we were ok within a minute or so of the first shake. Community spirit is alive and well here.
This morning the full extent of damage is coming to light, the whole family Kiwidutch was jolted awake this morning at 06.30 a.m., frightened kids just wanted to stay close.
I’m sitting on a bed having a rest and catching up with a rush of email and I’m not telling the kids that there are little tremors going on almost continuously at some moments. If you aren’t in a quiet spot and being still, then you don’t feel them.
My heart goes out to everyone who’s lost power, got liquefaction, more damage and traumatised kids, they have the physical and emotional mess to deal with just days before Christmas and Malls, supermarkets and businesses all over town are still closed this morning as staff clean up the wreckage of fallen stuff and they loose revenue too since the customers can’t come back until places have been cleaned up.
Family Kiwidutch have much to be Thankful for… we will help out here wherever we can, but to everyone, and especially the people of Christchurch, have a SAFE and Happy Christmas.