– Wendys Hamburgers, Hereford Street

The 22nd Feb 2011 will live in my mind for the rest of my life as I’m sure it will for a lot of true red and black blooded cantabrians,

this is my story….....

It was a fresh morning cool and overcast. I had worked until 1.30am that morning so i slept in a little and got up about 10.00am.

I decided to go have lunch with my wife at wendys hamburgers on hereford st and then go to kiwi disposables to look at a new security belt for work.

About 11.30am I headed out towards town. As I was driving through the CBD looking at all the damaged buildings and thinking about how the buildings were going to be fixed or rebuild it was a big job but knew it would be ok soon.

I went to the cashel st carpark by the Hotel Grand Chancellor but it was full so i went to the crossing carpark by the bus exchange it was running full but thought id take the chance anyway. I parked on the roof and went down to meet my wife on the cnr of Colombo and Hereford st outside the Hannifins building.

We had our lunch and I looked at my watch it was 12.45pm I said to my wife “should we go?” She said “na I just want to wait a while longer” then at around 12.50pm we got up and took our rubbish to the bin at the back of the restaurant.

Then 12.51pm Tuesday 22 Febuary changed for my wife and I forever. It hit with no warning. It was like a bomb had been dropped on Christchurch. The ground moaned like a giant beast had been disturbed from its sleep, the building was cracking around us the screams echoed like we were in a war zone. We stood for a moment in the middle of the floor looking at what was going on around us. I said “I think the Alpine Fault has gone”. We threw ourselves under a marble table with another person and waited for the shaking to stop. It seamed to go on forever but when it did stop we got up and went to leave, I could see all the damage in the building. I was amazed the building was still standing.

When we got outside I could not believe what I saw Christchurch had been destoryed, I could smell gas the building next to us had collapsed and I could see what I now know was a body under all the bricks and rubble. I was a mess my wife couldnt control me.

For a moment I thought to my self why did I not die why do I have to live with this. Then I realised I was still holding my large cup of rasberry and coke, I said to my wife “I need a rubbish bin” she said “I dont really think you need to worry about that right now” so I threw it away and headed on.

We headed down towards the building were my wife was working it was still standing. There was thousands of people milling around not knowing were to go or what to do.

I saw a few people I knew I spoke to them and asked if they were all ok.

My wife told me she needed her bag and keys which were still in the building upstairs. I didnt want her going in but there was no other option. She went in with a few of her collegues, I didnt know what to do what will happen if there is an aftershock and shes still in there. Then I saw another person I knew he was helping a person that had a serious head injury so I helped to wrap his head and keep him calm.

My wife had since come down and was trying to find me I went over to her. Then the first aftershock hit and with power the buildings swayed and cracked with the movement. My wife said “were going now!!!!” Her car was behind the building she was working in. I wasnt happy about her going round there but we had no choice my car was not accessable and more then likely crushed and damaged in someway. She got the car and we left slowly down hereford st trying hard not to hit people as we went through the damaged streets and in between parts of buildings that was laying in the road that had fallen during the shaking. We went past the CTV building but I didnt realise at the time what had happened to it I just saw smoke and fire. We headed down Linwood ave and saw more damage at Eastgate Mall and the shops accross the road on the cnr of buckleys rd and Linwood Ave. Its a feeling that I will never forget the helplessness of the situation and knowing that hundreds of people had died today still sends cold shivers down my back even today.

As the people Rebuild our broken city from the result of that horrific day we all remember how lucky we are to still be here and realize how short our live really are. My heartfelt sympathy goes to the family, friends and other loved ones who lost someone on that black day in christchurch history, but also remember that from the rubble we will rebuild a stronger safer christchurch. We will rise again christchurch, KIA KAHA BE STRONG!!

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