‘That Rather Precarious Morning’-Jessica, Home school

Residential buildings – ripped.

Roads and fields – ruined.

Historical structures – demolished.

People – homeless and scared.

Such were the cruel antics of the 2010 earthquake, in Christchurch New Zealand.

We received no previous warnings regarding the 7.1 magnitude quake – and as a result, everyone was unprepared.

This devastating earthquake will not be quickly forgotten, and the damage will take a long time to right.

Everyone has a story and this, is mine;

It was three forty-five…

I was exhausted and frustrated…

For some unknown reason, sleep had evaded me for the last four hours.

I got up and out of bed, and bumbled my way down the hallway to the toilet.

On my way back, I had a sudden brainstorm (I don’t get these much often!). In my room, I carefully and cautiously opened my roll-top writing desk – trying not to make a sound. Once it was open, I searched blindly in the dark with my hands for my purple book-light.

You see, my plan was to make myself really tired by reading for a while, so that I might be able to snatch some sleep. I knew it could very well be successful, as I had used this tactic twice before.

Once I had finally found my light, I flicked it on so I could find my book. It was just resting on my bedside table, so there was no hassle in locating it.

I climbed into bed, being sure not to accidentally kick the cat, who was curled up at the end of my duvet looking rather miffed at me having woken him.

Once settled down in my blankets, I opened my book “Assassins” and began to read.

However, as interesting as the book was, I just couldn’t concentrate. After only twenty minutes of reading – I put it down. Having lost all hope of getting even a snippet of sleep for the remainder of the morning, I resorted to the fish.

They weren’t at all very interesting at that time of night, and I could only see Cheese (who was sort of floating in the top corner closest to me), BooBoo (who was on the filter), and one of the neon tetras who was just sitting near the bottom behind the ornamental log.

At that point Max stirred and gave a very quite meow – as he does when he is waking up – so I diverted my attention to him. I petted him and stroked him for a few minutes – stopping only when he lightly bit my hand.

I lay back down again and just stared at the roof – bored out of my mind.

My boredom, soon, however turned into adrenalin.

All of a sudden, I heard the most horrendous rumbling noise, and realised that everything in my room was shaking and rattling violently. Then, as I looked around, I saw to my uttermost horror that it was not just my personal belongings that were moving – so was my room!

To say I was scared or even terrified would be a tremendous understatement.

I could hear the window panes rattling, the house creaking. Everything was chaotic; my bed was bucking like a wild horse, and my room – as though it was having a seizure…

Petrified beyond imagination, I lay in bed staring at the ceiling – my mind confused and clouded by panic.

I began praying fervently that I would not feel too much pain when the roof came down – as I honestly expected it to.

All of a sudden, I looked around to see my fish tank containing my beloved fishies topple to the ground, dragging the small stand it stood on with it.

At that point, something inside me snapped. I didn’t want to lie here waiting for the house to collapse – I wanted to live!!

In an instant, I had thrown the bed-covers off of me and leapt out of bed – my book-light still in my hand.

I stumbled my way across the floor to my door.

I don’t remember why, but I looked back (perhaps at the fish tank??) and I saw the tank water slowly spreading around the corner of my bed.

My bedroom door was open – so that the cat could get in and out throughout the night – so I only had to grab the handle and yank it open.

I stepped into the middle of the hallway and screamed “MUM!!” I looked into Rebekah’s room – her door was open and she wasn’t there. With my book-light, I could make out the silhouettes of mum with her back against one side of her doorframe, holding Daniel and Rebekah close.

This may seem weird, but I spent at least a few seconds trying to figure out if she (mum) was or was not, wearing a top (she wasn’t – though she was wearing a pair of black under-pants!!).

“The fish tank fell over…” I cried out, nearly in tears.

“Don’t worry about the fish,” mum said“GET UNDER THE DOORFRAMES!!”

With my heart in my mouth and my head spinning, I ran back to my room and gripped the sides of my doorframe – so hard I’m surprised that I didn’t even dent it!

Still gripping the door-frame, I peered around the corner at mum. She was still in the same position with my brother and sister. Meanwhile, dad had been getting dressed (!!) and he now appeared beside mum.

Then, (I’m a little fuzzy in remembering this bit) we all got together in the hallway – I think the shaking had stopped… (?)

We ran outside, our legs powered by adrenaline – Rebekah and Daniel shedding enough tears to fill the Pacific – and everyone scared stiff.

Dad’s car was parked on the side of the road and dad took from it some torches.

I could see in several driveways down our street; the flashing lights of torches, and the quiet sounds of people talking.

Our next-door-neighbour asked if we were all alright. He said he had just rung his brother on the other side of town and his house had shifted right off of its foundations!!

We were wowed by this news. The earthquake had really been that bad?!

At this point I am ashamed to say, all I could think about was the animals. My fish, I knew, had an extremely slim chance of surviving, but what about our dog? Was he all-right? He sleeps in the garage and we have a lot of big and heavy objects in there (including huge bales of pink-batts), and I was paranoid that he was squished. It was devastating enough that I had lost my fish – but losing the dog would have broken my heart.

Mum said that she was going to go back inside to get us all some shoes and jackets – to ward of the bite of the frosty morning.

Dad said he would go get them, but mum wasn’t going to let him go into the house without her, so, after a very emotional pleading with them to stay here by Becky and Daniel, they left us standing outside.

Before they left, I pleaded with them to check on Taylor, I just had to know if he was okay or not…

Mum said that the last thing they were worried about was the dog (she wasn’t being mean, I know, it was the truth – we were more important than the dog).

We, (Rebekah, Daniel and I) were in socks, but that didn’t stop the ice-cold footpath from chilling our toes. We huddled together, standing on a jacket – I think it was dad’s.

Within a few seconds, I heard the whimper of Taylor – and I was delighted to know that a: he was okay, and b: mum and dad had let him out.

While mum and dad were gone, there was another bout of violent shaking.

We all jumped in fright, our hearts beating phrenetically to the tune of the Phantom of the Opera.

Becky and Daniel let loose a quiet scream – though it actually sounded a bit more like a high-pitched squeak ending with a whimper.

We all wondered, hoped, prayed, mum and dad were safe inside the house…

Our neighbour drove past in his car, and stopped in front of us. He asked where our parents were, and were we okay?

Just then mum appeared, and said that yes, everyone was fine. The neighbour said that he thought we should get back inside our house, as there could be a tsunami!!

A tsunami!! Suddenly I was filled with terror. My imagination running wild, I could see in my mind’s eye – me trying desperately to stay above surging waters, swallowing litres of salty sea water…

“Do you think we will get a tsunami??” I asked mum.

When she said no; I instantaneously relaxed, and soon completely forgot about it!

We all put on some warmer clothes; in total, I wore a t-shirt, my pyjama top, a jersey and my green polar-fleece; as well as my pyjama pants and a pair of thermal pants (how glad I was that I had put them on before bed!!). I also wore a pair of mums’ slippers.

Dad suggested we hop into the car to warm up a bit more, but mum argued that the car was one of the worst places to be in an earthquake. This conflict of ideas caused a little panic in us kids, though in the end we did go into the car.

I sat on the left side closest to the door, and kept my hand on the handle; just in case we had to make an emergency exit!!

I was still thinking of my fish; and had this mental image of them scattered on my floor gasping for air. In fact, at one point (I admit it) I let slip a few tears.

While we were in the car, dad received a call on his mobile from Uncle Craig. Everything was fine at his house, he said, and dad reported that we were all okay too.

After the phone call, we felt an aftershock. Filled with consternation yet again – we tumbled out of the car as quickly as humanly possible, and stood – our bodies shaking – on the footpath.

I fully expected the tree by our mailbox to come crashing down, so I actually moved out of the way and verbalised my fear.

Mum said not to worry, and that these big shakes we were getting now were aftershocks.

It was about then, that we saw Max. I have no idea when or how he got outside, but he managed to find a way! He was standing on the lawn, ears pricked, body tense, and eyes clouded with panic and confusion. And then he was gone – tearing away over the fence and into the dark.

After what appeared to have been several hours, when I am sure that it was in fact less than five minutes; we decided to go to Uncle Craig and Aunty Tina’s house.

During the entire two minute drive, I kept my hand sitting on the door-handle, and my feet angled in a position for a leap from the car…

As we neared the end of our street, a small fluffy-white dog raced across the road in front of us.

It was just like a disaster movie, and I half expected to wake up to discover it a dream.

But it was no dream…

As we neared the round-a-bout on our way to our aunt and uncle’s, our train of thoughts turned to the house we were building. What would it look like? Did the walls remain standing??

I personally didn’t think that the walls could have withstood the earthquake.

We pulled into Tina’s driveway, and I don’t know about everyone else; but I was rather eager to exit the car!

We all walked together around the side of the house. I noticed that the window to one of our cousin’s bedrooms was wide open. To no one in particular, I mentioned that we could perhaps call through the window to find out whether they were inside or not.

We didn’t need too, for as we came to Craig and Tina’s bedroom, Uncle Craig came out and greeted us – holding a plastic buzz-lightyear bat I might add!!. He was closely followed by Aunty Tina, who was followed by Jordan, Eden, Grace, Lydia and Zeke (our cousins).

Everyone erupted into speech. How are you? We’re all fine. Boy, wasn’t that was awful! Yes, it was very scary!

Lydia, the youngest, came up to me and gave me a big hug. I picked her up (can’t remember whether I did it of my own accord or whether she asked me!!). At some point, she fluffed, and I put her down as the odour was nauseating!

Jordan (who is my age and one of my best friends) and I swapped stories.

He had heard his dad yelling “EARTHQUAKE!! EARTHQUAKE!!” and thought (for some weird reason!) that there was a fire! I am not at all sure how the word or action of “earthquake” sounds even a teeny-weeny bit like the word and action of “fire” – but, Jordan has been known to do some strange things (a bit like myself!). His justification is that he was still half asleep!

Anyway, upon thinking that there was a fire, he leapt off the top of his bunk, and flung open the bedroom window. He was straddling the window frame, when he remembered his brother Zeke who asleep on the bottom bunk! He quickly back-tracked and started trying to wake the sleeping Zeke. By now Jordan had realised that there was NOT a fire, but that there WAS an earthquake!

Once awake, Zeke apparently began screaming, “We’re gonna die! We’re all gonna die!!”

Then, the whole family had gathered together on Craig and Tina’s bed.

Mum and Daniel had to go to the toilet, but no-one dared go inside. They ended up going in one of the gardens, and neither of them took very long in relieving themselves!!

Dad drove the car onto the 2 acre lawn, and turned on the radio.

What a surprise, it was all about the earthquake!!

We all gathered around the drivers-side car door and listened. It was then that we learned the magnitude of the quake (7.1), and a little bit about how town had fared – which in some places wasn’t very good at all.

The power was out in nearly all of Christchurch (including in Rolleston – where we were).

We also learned that no-one had been killed, and there were only two people with critical injuries, one from a falling chimney, and the other from flying glass…

Another thing we were doing at that point was texting (well, I wasn’t as my phone was at home). Mum, Tina, Dad, Craig, Jordan and Eden were all busy checking up on all of the people they knew.

Dad got a call from his dad and his mum, who were both OK.

Mum sent a text to her sister in Wellington that read “We are all right.”

Paula (her sister) had not at that point yet heard about the earthquake, and replied with a “WHAT!”

Mum gave her a call and explained our situation, and Paula got rather emotional.

On the radio, they requested that people only use their phones in an emergency, as the networks were extremely busy, and were only running off generators.

Jordan and I were texting Jessie at that point, and Uncle Craig told Jordan to stop.

Every time I felt an after-shock I stepped quickly away from the car. One time I did so, I stood on Daniel who was crouched down, sitting on the bricks that surrounded a large circular garden!

By this time, dad’s car was holding twice the number of passengers it was designed to carry, as Tina, Lydia, Eden, Jordan, Grace, Rebekah and Zeke squished up in the back seats, while dad (and mum?) were in the front – all of them trying to remain warm.

I was still standing outside in the freezing cold, my feet chilled right through to the bone.

I changed from the soaking-wet slippers into a pair of mum’s boots, and mum dragged a bench seat over from the side of the house, out to where the car was parked on the lawn.

There, Jordan and I sat together under a blanket for a few minutes.

I cannot remember what we were talking about, but you can bet your boots it was to do with the earthquake!!

Then, suddenly, mum told me we were going back home!

So we all said our goodbyes, and off we went; back in the car, and back on the road.

Once we arrived home, mum and dad pulled out one of the living-room sofas so that it was facing the ranch sliders, which were open in case there was another earthquake and we needed to make a fast exit.

Mum made us a small milkshake each. I don’t know about the others, but mine was not all that nice, as on my third gulp, I swallowed a large lump of protein powder!!

We (Rebekah, Daniel and I) were given two blankets and told to sit down on the couch while mum and dad tidied up the house.

So for about quarter of an hour we sat there. It was boring, boring, boring!!

I knew that my fishies would by now be dead, and again I let a few salty tears slip. I turned my head of course, so that no-one else could see them, but I think they knew anyway!!

I really wanted to know if my laptop, my phone and nana Gresham’s journal were alright, as they had been sitting on a shelf in the fish tank stand.

I actually had envisioned the journal unreadable and soaked, my laptop with glass sticking out of it and soaked, and my phone; soaked.

I was right on only one thing – my phone.

Nana’s journal was only barely wet, and my laptop had – beyond my comprehension – evaded both water and glass!!

The phone however, had taken on the full fury of the tank water, and was pretty drenched.

I took the back cover off of my phone to let the inside dry, and, with my laptop in hand, went and sat back down on the sofa.

I lifted the lid (of my laptop), and turned it on, relieved to finally have something to do – only to discover with disappointment that the battery life remaining was extremely minimal.

So, guess what, I sat there doing nothing, and no, it was not fun!

Dad was cleaning up my dear little fishies (all eleven of them), and mum was going back and forth between the lounge and the bedrooms trying to decide where to start cleaning up…

What we really wanted right now was a radio, but we had not one in the house that ran off normal batteries!

It was then that I had another brainstorm (I wish I got these more often!).

“Hey,” I said, to either mum or dad, not sure which, “We could use my MP3 player – that has a radio on it!!”

They agreed, and, as I was not allowed to go into my room yet, dad had to go and get it.

I plugged a speaker into it, and turned it on.

Dad recommended a certain channel (101 point something, I think) that wasn’t playing much music, but was instead keeping people updated on news of the earthquake.

The speaker of which my MP3 player was plugged into was worse than pathetic, and I had press my ear right up against if I intended on hearing anything! Even then the sound was faint.

I don’t accurately recall what was being said over the radio, but I do know that it was mentioned that a few people had attempted vandalism of the empty city. I was appalled that people could be so… is heartless the right word? I was glad however that the police had stopped them, and that everything was now under control.

The speaker on the radio reported that it was unsure when we would get our power back, and that they would have a better idea in a few hours, and would keep us informed.

It surprised me how much the modern world relies on electricity!

After a while, I decided that I wanted to get changed out of my blue doggie pyjamas, so I asked mum.

She said I could, but that getting to my wardrobe could be a little difficult.

I replied that there was a pile of clothes beside one of my tall book-selves (that had toppled to the ground I might add!).

So mum got the clothes, and I went into her and dad’s room to get changed in their ensuite. I would say that that was most likely the fastest I have ever changed in my life!

My prime fear was that we would have another earthquake and I would have to get out of the room only half-dressed (or worse)!! Thank-goodness that never happened!

When I got back to the living room, I dumped my pyjamas down on the floor beside the couch, and sat back down.

It seemed like forever until we were allowed off of that confining couch, but I know it wasn’t otherwise I would still be sitting there!!

Anyway, we were at last given the “all clear”.

I confess I did not even think about Max (our cat) at all since the quake, which is weird, as I am supposed to be an animal-lover!

I had thought about my fish, the dogs – but not Max!

I guess I just expected him to come back when he was good and ready.

Rebekah and Daniel apparently had thought differently; they were tormented by the thoughts that he might never come back, was lost, or was run over…

I was in my room sitting on my bed which was pulled over to the side in front of my wardrobe, listening to the radio and surveying my personal-items damage.

The book I had been reading before the quake (“assassins”) was thoroughly soaked, and in a way resembled a prune.

One of my lovely horse figurines had lost every-one of its delicate and slender legs (and I had just re-painted the thing too!), and another had lost one fore-leg and an ear!

I am still currently in battle with mum – I want to fix them, and mum said to throw them out (I don’t think so!!)!!

Anyway, I was in my room listening to the radio, when I heard mum, Becky and Daniel moving around and talking in the other rooms.

A nickname of mine (of which, come to think of it, I haven’t been called in rather a while) is “big-ears.” I have this name for two reasons, one is because I have “big” ears, and the other is because I have perfected the skill of eavesdropping!

Curiosity kicked in, and I turned the radio down so I could hear them better.

I heard enough to know that they were looking for Max.

I could also hear that Rebekah (and Daniel?) were very upset, as he had not yet returned.

Mum came into my room and asked what I was doing. When I said I was just listening to the radio, she said “why don’t you go for a walk and see if you can find Max”.

I didn’t really want to at all – and I didn’t – but I did go to the front door to call for him.

There was no way I wanted to go down the street calling “Max!! Here puss, puss, puss!!” – I admit it; I was far too self-conscious to do such a thing. However, had Max still been missing at dinner-time – then I would have done it.

But Max didn’t remain missing for long. Within a few minutes he came trotting home to be greeted by mum, Becky and Daniel with tears, hugs and kisses.

As I afore mentioned, the speaker of which my MP3 player was plugged into was, well, rubbish. Turns out my brilliant plan didn’t work after all…

We had a large black and yellow Dewalt radio (dad’s work one), but it was at the section (the house we are building).

So it was decided that we would go to the section and retrieve the radio.

On the way there in the car, we were all wondering the same thing… what would the house look like? Would the framing have withstood the quake?

I for one had my doubts…

What a surprise we received when we arrived at our destination!

As we walked through the house we were amazed to find that there was absolutely NOTHING wrong with it!!

Now, normally if I walked through the house and saw a box of nails sitting on the framing I wouldn’t laugh because, well, it’s just not funny. However, things had changed, and I did laugh when I saw the nails. Who would have thought they could possibly still remain there after what had happened that morning!!

After a thorough inspection of the frame and brick-work, we went to the neighbour’s house.

They had a lady there (a neighbour from the other side of the house) who was there for the same reason as us – to check that everything was OK.

We all exchanged stories, and while we were talking, Becky’s phone’s alarm went off! It was to remind her to make bread.

Everyone laughed when she told us what the alarm was for and we all agreed that she didn’t need to make any today!

After it was clear that everything was OK and we had the radio, we took to the road again.

On our way back home, we stopped in at George and Nick’s.

They had a few vases smashed, and also a few items from the kitchen.

In their pantry, they had a can of coke fall to the floor, and then something (I can’t remember what) fell on-top of the coke and punctured it, causing the can to explode all over the floor!

One of their goldfish in the pond outside had flopped out of the water, and was still alive several hours later!!

During the earthquake, the family had sat on George and Nick’s bed with their dog Fred. Brittany had picked up a small lump off the bed, and asked her mum what it was. Nick took it off her and threw it off the bed. It was dog poopie!

George said that our water had a high chance of being cut off, and so he had filled the bathtub just in case.

We did not stay at their house long, as we had to go home.

So after saying our goodbyes, we all left.

I don’t know what time it was, but I do know that it was sometime (about an hour) before lunch; when we started to make ourselves something to eat.

Mum opened a box of Sesame crackers (the best of the best!!) and we just scoffed our faces with them! I was wearing my knitted black vest which had rather deep pockets – and I loaded them with about seven crackers at a time, eating them as I walked around outside and in the house.

I had been on a sort of diet the last few weeks, of which I was strictly not allowed dairy products (including egg), red-meats, wheat or sugar.

Today was an exception, and I took full advantage of it!

For “brunch” we had delicious bacon (oh how I savoured it!), fried eggs (with the yolks running…) and baked beans (I had a mountain-load!) topped off with grated cheese… yum.

As we had no electricity, all of these scrumptious goods were cooked on the barbeque (which near the end, was running low on gas!).

We all sat together on the outdoor dining table, with Taylor (our Golden Retriever) and Maggie (my piano teachers Border Collie) watching carefully for food scraps.

Having an earthquake did not stop the need for dad to finish building our house, so he left soon after having “brunch”.

For a while we (mum, Rebekah and I) stayed at home. However, with only the radio for our amusement, we were soon pretty bored!

At mum’s suggestion we go to Tina’s, we all promptly agreed!

Within a few minutes, we were on our way…

As you can imagine, when we arrived at Tina’s house, we all (once again) talked about that loathsome earthquake that had totally razed all of our plans and hopes for the week (indeed the month!!).

Even now, two and a half months later, we STILL talk about it, sharing and swapping stories with one-another!

Anyway, Jordan and I were walking around the house, and gardens, wondering what we were going to do for the rest of the day…

It wasn’t as if there wasn’t anything we could do, but the circumstances we were in, for some unknown reason, made us feel as if there was nothing.

Finally, we settled on a puzzle competition. We had tried to do this several days ago, but had never finished…

We each chose a 1000 piece puzzle, and set to work. I was doing one on a beach and boat. It had a LOT of blue!!

Jordan was doing one that had a Mini parked outside a movie theatre.

Uncle Craig was cooking pikelets on the barbeque outside, and after he had made each batch, Eden distributed them out to everyone. They were very delicious!!

After about four batches however, they ran out…

Every few minutes or so, we would suddenly freeze in our activities, as the whole house and floor shook and grumbled due to another aftershock.

During some of the larger ones we felt, we moved into a position from which we could easily spring up off of the ground and race for a door!!

After each shock, our hearts would be left pounding away 100 miles an hour – it’s a wonder the poor things didn’t stop completely!!

While we were quietly puzzling away, Zeke came and joined us with one of his own. However, every five or so minutes, he put it away and came back with an easier one!!

While all of this was going on, Rebekah and Eden were having a “crazy moment.”

They just went bonkers!! They were laughing and running around – being complete nutters!!

As I had taken my camera with me, I took a few photos of them being silly.

At some point I went up to the kitchen sink to have a drink of water.

I searched in the overhead cupboard for a glass – I wasn’t supposed to be using plastic-ware.

When I found one, I turned on the tap and poured some water into the glass. To my horror, I discovered that the water had an unearthly greenish-brown tinge to it.

“The water’s brown!!” I exclaimed!!

Everyone came up to take a look, and all came to the same conclusion.

Tina was disgusted – she had just had a drink, and so had Jordan!!

I went to the bathroom to see if the water there was the same.

It was.

Every tap and toilet water was the same colour – it was very disgusting!

The water was sewage!

We weren’t sure whether or not it was just Tina’s house that was like that, or everyone’s, so Jordan and I went to ask the neighbours.

Their water was the same…

In fact, the whole of Rolleston was without drinking water.

Luckily, Uncle Craig had filled the bathtub up before the water was undrinkable!

I was winning in the race Jordan and I were having to finish our puzzles, but we never actually got to see who the champion really was as we became bored and quit! (again!!)

We (all of the kiddies – and teenagers!) went outside and played with Jordan’s long bamboo sticks for a while.

By this time, it was around mid-afternoon…

Mum and Tina went for a quick drive to our house to take down all of the heavy or fragile things inside that could fall down and break should we have another earthquake.

They also went to the Duncan’s house to fill up some containers with drinking water (the Duncan’s have their own water and septic tanks).

I’m not at all sure whether mum rang them, or they rang mum, but one way or another, mum ended up talking to Nick on her mobile.

George had set up their power generator and were watching the news on T.V.

Uncle Craig and Aunty Tina didn’t have a generator – and neither did we – so we couldn’t follow suit.

We did however, have the radio to listen to – we used Jordan’s mobile.

According to George and Nick, and mum’s sister up in Wellington – the damage that was done was quite a lot.

We were all simply dying to see some of the footage – but how could we when we had no power?!!

We were just milling around in the living room – bored out of our minds, when Tina had a brain-wave.

She has a portable DVD player that also has T.V channels on it. Our spirits soared when we realised that maybe, just maybe, we would be able to watch the news!

While Tina raced down the hallway to go and get the small device, we all hoped – indeed, prayed – that its battery would not be flat!

When she came back, Tina was instantly surrounded by us eight children – all of us desperate for the player to work.

To our utter delight – it did!!

To our utter disappointment – we had just missed the news, and had to wait for it to come back on again in around half an hour!!

Jordan and I were determined not to lose our top-dollar seats in front of the tiny screen, and so played a war game called “Ancient Empires” on Jordan’s phone – until, that is, Tina demanded it back for the use of the radio!!

Jordan wasn’t too pleased with this, as he was worried that his phone would go flat – he didn’t complain too much about it though, as, after all, a mother’s word is law!!

When finally the news was back on (this was around five-thirty pm by the way), we all crowded around the DVD player (those “top-dollar” seats Jordan and I had been hoping to steal, were pinched by his and my mum!).

We were all amazed at the damage that had been done in Christchurch. From what was shown it was a wonder (correction – a miracle) no-one was killed!

As we were all intently watching, the down-lights above our heads flickered, and in a few seconds, light flared down – brightening up the whole room.

Hurray!! The power was back on!!

The computer, fish-tank, and kitchen appliances were all turned on, and Uncle Craig went onto the Stuff page.

What-do-ya-know, the lead headlines were all about the earthquake!!

We all looked at the photos of Christchurch on the internet – and we were amazed!

A lot of our historic buildings were either damaged, destroyed, or condemned.

The T.V in the lounge was pulled off of its face and placed around the right way and we turned it on.

It worked, but there were two thick dark angled lines on the top and bottom of the screen that hadn’t been there before.

We watched a bit of the news, but then to our disappointment mum said we had to go home…

At home we set up blankets and pillows on the floor in the living room, and moved the couches so we had more space.

We put our jackets, shoes and torches right beside the ranch-slider – if there was going to be another earthquake – we were gonna be prepared!!

For dinner Daniel, Rebekah and I each had a third of mum’s dinner she had not eaten the night before.

There wasn’t much, but that was all we got and we didn’t complain.

That night, we all watched TV.

Every channel had something about the earthquake, and our Prime Minister – Mr. John Key – had flown down from Wellington to Christchurch to help out.

There was also a scientist who spoke; saying that this earthquake was not actually the one that we were warned would come within the next fifty years – I can tell you now that that was not at all comforting!!

Apparently – according the scientist – the 7.1 earthquake could have caused the one that we have yet to come to be either larger, or smaller…

I – and every one else in and around Christchurch for that matter – desperately hope it is smaller!!

Anyhow, we were all exhausted and Becky, Daniel and I clambered into our blankets and lay our tired heads down on our soft pillows.

I didn’t get to sleep for a long time – well, at least it felt like a long time!

I lay there with my legs bent – ready to spring to my feet – and watched the door…

We didn’t have another “big” earthquake that night – but we had plenty of pretty scary aftershocks!!

Being night-time seemed to make each shake, rattle and roll all the more frightening, as it was pitch black.

Looking back, I am terribly surprised that my poor little heart didn’t just decided it had had enough and quit working altogether!

All I could hear after an aftershock was the frenzied beating of my heart, and it wouldn’t stop for several minutes (by then we had possibly had another aftershock!!).

Well, I certainly won’t complain that my heart didn’t stop!! I rather like living!!

At one point (about 3am I think my watch read) there was (yes, another one) an aftershock that woke all of us up.

I looked at my watch and noticed that it was now technically a new day.

But it wasn’t just any old day, it was Father’s day!!

I turned to dad and said “happy father’s day!” and everyone else followed suit.

I personally think that that was the most memorable Father’s day of his (and every other dad in and around Christchurch) life!!

It’s very ironic really (for me), that we should have one here in little old Christchurch.

In my encyclopaedia that I had when I was younger, there was a section on earthquakes that I found particularly interesting. There were pictures of cartoon people running away from cracks in the ground that had cars and trucks in them, and in the distance there was also a volcano erupting!

It was quite comical really…

Anyway, seeing all of that (and reading it too of course!) didn’t scare me or make me think “Gosh, I hope we don’t have one of those!!”

The reason of this is: I honestly thought that you only got those sorts of things in countries like China and Samoa etc.

I had always held the thought that “New Zealand doesn’t get things like that!”

Of course I had never ever heard of the Napier or Wairarapa earthquakes (which were in NZ and of bigger magnitude than the Christchurch one!!)

I had a very infantile view on such things I guess…

I must say though, having this earthquake has opened my eyes to the absolute sheer horror that people must go through when their country has a very serious natural disaster.

Until now, whenever I had heard of a tsunami, or a volcanic eruption (or an earthquake!!) I had always naturally thought something along the lines of “oh, it must be awful for those people…”

However that was said/thought with no actual idea on how terribly awful it really was.

Of course – our earthquake was not nearly as bad as some of those things that go on in the world, but now that it has happened I have at least a little bit more of a comprehension…

So… that is what happened (to me) on the September 4, 2010 at 4:35am!

A spine-chilling experience it was; and I DO NOT want to have it repeated ever, ever, EVER again!!

Even now, 59 days after the earthquake, we are STILL having those rotten aftershocks – but they don’t make me jump so much now, nor does my poor over-worked heart pound like it used to!

Still… I can’t wait until the day when I can say “adios aftershocks!!”

All in all – it was a rather precarious morning. 

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