– Linwood, Christchurch

4 September 2010, I knew I had to get to the doorway. The violent shaking woke me, I grabbed my teddy bear (the important stuff!) and ran. Well I tried to run but the room was in turmoil. All I had to do is get out of bed and get to the doorway perhaps two or three metres away. The bed was moving, so was everything. The wardrobe doors I had to go past were opening and shutting violently as the earth spun out of control. I had the doors on one side of me and the bed on the other side all coming together to stop me in my goal. In what seemed like for ever I got there, but it was hard to stay there because the doorway was moving too. I clung to the door frame, and my teddy bear, and waited for the nightmare to end. From memory I think the quake went on for about 40 seconds. Well it seemed like 40 hours. It just kept going and going and going.

When it stopped I thought of the cat, Penny. She had been on the bed but was long gone. It was 36 hours before I found her cowering under the bed in the spare room. I am guessing that’s where she had gone and that’s where she stayed. She was terrified!

There didn’t seem to be an damage to my house but it was still dark and who knew what daylight would show. Amazingly power and phone were still on. I had a phone call from my brother who lives out toward Rolleston. They were ok. I sent an email to my other brother (in Wellington) to tell him what had happened. Then, believe it or not, I went back to bed and slept for about an hour. Can’t believe I managed to do that, maybe it was just my reaction to the stress.

Waking up to a different world. I still had power and so had the television on immediately showing pictures of the rest of the city. Incredible! Inspite of what had happened I had little concept of the magnitude of damage. I had arranged to visit a friend who lived in the CBD. I didn’t realise getting there might be difficult. Strangely while I could get to my car in the garage (still no damage) the car it had reacted to the quake too. My car battery was dead. It had been fine the day before and I hadn’t left anything on. I really believe that the quake was too much for the car. Yeah, ok I’m weird but how else do you explain it?

The earthquake on 4 September 2010 affected me mentally and emotionally rather than physically. I had no damage to my house or contents. Bob Parker was going on the TV that every resident had suffered damage. I got to the stage where I didn’t admit to having no damage. It was almost as if people resented you. So I kept quiet. My brother had major damage to their farm. They were much closer to the epi-centre. My parents had some contents damage to their apartment in the CBD. But I had nothing.
I was very lucky.

I worked for a social service organisation at the time and found the attitude of those that ran it strange. I thought there would be an immediate need for the organisation to open it’s foodbank and drop in centre. But they didn’t see the need. Actually it broke my heart because I knew there would be masses of people in need of somewhere to come and talk, let alone in need of food. In the end I left the job because I couldn’t agree with the organisation’s insistence that there wasn’t need. I guess my reaction to the big quake and the many after was that of looking at what others needed. For me it had started with my neighbours. My neighbours were great in reaching out to see if there were needs. And that’s what I felt my workplace needed to do. I wasn’t forced out of my job by the earthquake but the circumstances led me to decide I couldn’t stay.

Of course in September there was job loss but not as great as to come in February. So I thought I’d have no trouble getting another job. It was a long road ahead of me.

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