– Avondale, Christchurch New Zealand

On that particular day, 22nd February 2011 12.51pm I was in Governors Bay doing Voluntary work for the Christchurch City Mission, the mission has Gardens over there. Brian, the boss was digging some potatoes and I was talking to him. All of a sudden the ground just seemed to rise up underneath us. I hit the ground and more sensibly Brian ran to see if the others were ok, which they were.

Governors Bay gardens is a very beautiful area, with lots of Bellbirds, Wood Pigeon, Fantails, Waxeyes and so on that add to the beauty of the site. We had lunch under the trees and kept an ear on the van radio. Reports of the size of the tremor and so on were coming in rapidly. Also we heard of the demise of our beloved Cathedral. For me it didn’t really seem real until we got back to Christchurch and saw the traffic chaos that ensued and also the the damage that was evident to the rock walls coming down the Cashmere hills. Little did I know of the central city chaos and the building that had collapsed people trapped and more importantly people missing and killed.

On the drive back over the hill there was evidence of rock falls on the road, but nothing that stopped us us getting back. Getting back to Colombo street we were greeted with traffic chaos with the cars nose to tail and people on foot, outside of schools it was even busier.

Sue was the driver and very patient and she had decided to take Tyson out to Avonhead where he lived. That took us about two and a half hours. There was lots of crawling and general traffic jams, but, at the same time when we were stalled the after shocks were coming thick and fast and the van was rocking around all over the place. Our next destination was back to the City Mission. We didn’t dare make a wrong turn because you’d never make it home. The Mission car park was locked so we were unable to get our cars. Sue took me to Linwood and I had to walk home from there. All the while the traffic chaos ensued. I even had to take off my shoes and socks to get through the water. I got home to Avondale about 7.30 and all the neighbours were shovelling liquifaction and fighting to keep it out of the house. It was a very late night no dinner no electricity, no water.

Louise.

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