– North New Brighton, Canterbury, New Zealand

September the 4th was scary, I was 4 months pregnant and remember waking up wondering what was happening. Our 5 year old daughter was already in bed with us, so we all scrambled under the door way. It seemed to last such a long time. I remember it being very cold as we all went outside to find fellow neighbours outside looking at each other with bewilderment. The next few hours were full of cars heading out of town, for fear of tsunami, we live by the beach so this was to be expected. We stayed put after hearing on the radio that chance of tsunami was slim. For a long time after this I stayed very close to my daughter, not wanting to let her out of my sight, terrified that this would happen again.

Feburary 8th and we had a baby boy, aftershocks had died down and I certainly did not hold the same fear I did after September, life was getting back to normal and we had a wee baby which helped us all focus on something else. Feburary the 22nd started out as normal, I walked my daughter to school and settled at home with baby. Just before lunch a good friend of mine popped in for a cupa and to meet wee Izak. I sat on the couch happily feeding the baby while Kylee sat at the table and we chatted away. It was not to be a long chat, for soon after that I remember Kylee beside me on the couch with her arms over myself and Izak to protect us. Everything in the house flew in all directions, the oven popped off the wall, glass was smashing, bricks were popping off the outside of the house directly outside from where we were sitting. I remember screaming ‘don’t squash me, the baby’. Soon after that I was in hysterics yelling for my daughter at school.

I was absolutely terrified. Kylee helped to try keep me calm, she drove me to the school then headed off to rescue her own children from school. As I ran to the school field where the children were, all I could hear was screaming, hundreds of children screaming, terrified. I scanned all around searching for my daughter, “Jayme, Jayme” I called to the teachers, finally I found her huddled with her friends. Not a tear in her eye, such a brave wee girl. I tried to comfort other children until their parents arrived, luckily Izak slept through the whole affair!

Across the field I see my sister running towards us, she was very upset. She had been to our house to look for us and then came straight to the school. She had run for quite some distance to get to us. Since this traumatic day life has definately changed in many ways. It is in the back of my head every day, I cannot travel over the other side of town while my daughter is at school. The thought of not being able to get to her terrifies me. I have kept my son close to me throughout his short 7 months of life. I still wonder if we are doing the right thing staying in Chrischurch, wonder if we are safe and when the next big one will hit. The process of recovery will be a long one, there is alot of healing to be done. I am so grateful that my loved ones were all ok, my heart goes out to those that were not so fortunate. The earthquake has brought many people closer together which can be noted as one good thing, other then that I must say it was certainly the most scary day of my life!

Thanks Kylee for being there for me, and thankyou to my sister Keita who has been beside me throughout the whole ordeal.xx

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