‘Earthquake story’-Alexa, 12, Cobham Intermediate

I remember when the ground started shaking. It felt like the ground was jelly and someone was shaking the plate the jelly was on. I was on the playground when it happened. I had just come of a spinning tyre when the earth started rolling around. At the start I thought I was just extremely dizzy but then I realised that it was an earthquake. I quickly ran into the middle of the grassy field with my friends and waited for the earthquake to stop. I didn’t realise that the earthquake was that big and dangerous. I looked around the field and saw fountains of water and liquefaction spurt everywhere. Lots of people were crying and getting out their mobile phones to see if their family were all right. Soon the whole school was on the field, including the teachers. My teacher, Mr Jackson, did the roll call to make sure everyone was there. I went over to a group of girls I knew and we started to exchange stories of where we were and what happened there.

One of my friends was in the library. She said that all the books were flying out of the metal book shelves. A boy in my class told us that he was in the corridor. He said that when he looked inside the classroom he saw the desks skidding all over the room. I went off and tried to comfort some girls who were in tears. I thought it must have been scarier for them because they’ve already been through this once. I went back to my friends and we started playing hand games to pass the time. The wind was blowing hard and piercing us through our light sport uniforms. Everyone was told to sit down and wait for our parents to come. I looked around and I could already see some worried mums and dads filing in. Soon I saw my own mum with my little brother. Mum started talking with the teacher and found out that school would be cancelled for 1-2 weeks.

My mum told me she was in Riccarton Mall when the earthquake hit. She quickly dived between two tables until the shaking had stopped. She then ran to the other side of the mall to get to the car. My mum said that when she looked up there was sunlight pouring in as though bits of the roof had fallen. She said she didn’t really stop though because all she was thinking about was if the family were ok.

We started walking back home when my friend’s mum pulled over and said she could drop us off. Once we got home we were relieved to see my dad waiting at the front door. Dad said that the filing cabinets in his office were sliding around and falling over. He said that he had to break the door down because it got blocked. He left his cell phone, wallet, computer and running gear behind. We went inside the house and saw lots of things knocked over and broken. Mum and dad’s wedding wine glasses, a Morris and James pottery plate and lots of other things. Mum and dad’s wardrobe had fallen on their bed and all the books in my room had fallen out of the shelves. There was water pouring out of a pipe near the roof so dad went up into the attic to see if he could sort it out. All the time the aftershocks continued to pound the earth.

Mum ushered us out of the house and told us to wait in the garden where it was unlikely anything would fall on us. Dad came out from the attic and told us that a big sheet of glass had fallen on the ballcock. For those who don’t know, a ballcock is a floating ball on the end of an arm that is connected to a valve controlling the water level in a tank. The valve opens as the ball falls and closes as it rises. Because the glass pushed the ball down the valve opened and let water out making it overflow. We turned the mains off to stop the water then went out onto the street to see if our neighbours were alright. I listened to the radio to see if there was anything we needed to know. Mum was busy texting our family and friends to see if everyone was ok. I was starting to realise just how big and devastating this earthquake was. Because we had no power or water we drove out to my grandparents farm, where they had water and power. Also, they don’t feel the aftershocks out in the country. My uncle, aunty and 1 year old cousin were staying too. Their house has flooded with liquefaction and water.

There were helicopters flying all over the sky. I found out that they were transporting food to badly hit suburbs. It costs $25,000 to run the helicopter, in petrol, so we really appreciate all of your donations. They’ve stopped the helicopters now. I think it might have been too expensive. Instead, they have made something called the Canterbury Express. Everyone donates non-perishable foods, baby food, toiletry, matches candles and things like that. They then package up the food and put it in trucks and trailers that people have lent for the cause. We bought some things to donate and drove out to where you drop it off, the Rangiora race track. They are using the kitchen facilities there and the bottom of the grand stand for packaging. We dropped of the food to a tent full of volunteers than had a look around to see how everyone else was doing their bit. People had baking, and cartons full of potatoes. Supermarkets had donated tons of fresh fruit. There were donated refrigerators and people on the barbecue heating up food. As we were leaving we even saw an elderly couple on their mobility scooters turning in. It seemed that everyone wanted to chip in and do their bit, even the disabled.

We are back in our own home now. The plumbers came round to fix the water. It just makes me realise how lucky we are to have a house to stay in.

Thank you everyone for the donations to Christchurch. You don’t know how much it means to us.

2 Responses to “‘Earthquake story’-Alexa, 12, Cobham Intermediate”

  1. Ella says:

    Dear Alexa

    What an incredible piece of writing, well done.

    Your family and teachers are pretty cool and able, that’s great for you to have such good people around you.

    I am impressed with what you are doing there to help out, those of us far away have been frustrated as we have felt as though our contribution is so small.

    Most of us are trying to raise monies in all sorts of imaginative ways for Canterbury. We are all in this as one big NZ family and we will be beside you all the way.

    You sound as though you have a great maturity and that is the precursor to wisdom. That makes you a very valuable asset to Canterbury, so stay safe and well.

    From Ella in Auckland.

  2. steph williams says:

    hi alexa
    i am sorry to hear about your story i am from Rangiora and i know what it’s like hope your ok now and at the supermarkets in rangiora u could donate to the canterbury express whitch we did .

    stsay safe

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