– Fendalton, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand

After getting up to feed our 4 month old around 4:15am on Sept 4th I was just starting to drift back to sleep when this train like noise and shaking started. I knew it was an earthquake but as it immediately intensified my initial surprise turned to fright as I realised how big it was. Not stopping to wake my husband I tore out of bed to my baby’s room next door worried something would fall on him – I don’t think my feet touched the floor – then with my arms wrapped protectively around his head and body I yelled to my 4 year old that Mummy was coming while negotiating the buckling hallway, my body impacting from wall to wall.

Reaching my 4 year old son’s bedroom I realised I couldn’t get past his chest of drawers which had already fallen over so I scrambled onto the end of the bed still desperately clutching my baby, trying to grab him, my heart in my mouth, terrified that the house was going to come down around us – for surely it couldn’t put up with this much shaking???

From behind I suddenly felt my husband’s arms around us all as he ripped the duvet cover over our heads while the window in the bedroom smashed shattering glass around.

When it finally stopped there was not a sound for about 5 seconds then the silence was broken by a million alarms going off.

I knew there would be aftershocks and so we moved under the doorway in part of the hall away from windows and falling objects.

I went to the lounge to grab my cellphone and found I couldn’t dial correctly – my hands were shaking so much from terror and adrenaline and I could hear my own breathing, harsh in my ears like I had just sprinted fast around the block.

I woke family in Wellington thinking it must have originated there or at the Alpine Fault and hung up as soon as I knew they were ok to dial more friends and family as the text messages starting rolling in….”R U OK????”

With the light of my phone I went to grab a torch – the lounge was a mess, everything upturned… the dinning room glass sliding door had been thrown off its hinges and lay smashed on the floor overturning the computer table, all the equipment in its wake and I threw myself backwards onto the floor realising I would otherwise cut my feet on the broken glass which was intermixed with a broken potplant.

Another aftershock hit and I raced back to my family to the doorway.

When it passed we decided to get the car out but with no power the garage door wouldnt open and the side door was very obviously twisted not allowing us in that way either.

When dawn arrived, I nervously ran down the driveway to check on the neighbours hoping that another aftershock wouldnt hit while I was outside by myself.
No further sleep that day or the next while the earth continued to rumble, wobble and shake.

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