– Sumner Village to North New Brighton

Although well into old age I still work as a Registered Nurse. I was 17 kilometres away from home on the 22 of Feb. on duty in a private hospital in Sumner. I was due off duty but stayed around for a while helping to clean up after the massive jolt. There was no phone contact with my adult children. Rocks could be heard coming down towards Sumner. Our brave Manager drove around to see how bad the damage was. It was 3pm. I had to leave in the tinyiest car in New Zealand to try and get to North Brighton. I knew bridges were out and roads broken. I had heard that the cathedral was down and rocks had crashed on a bus. I knew rocks were coming down the hillsides onto the roads I had too travel on. I had to check my kids and my poor dog that was locked inside my house—-if it was still standing close to QE2 stadium. A stream of traffic was leaving Sumner. My little car was rocking and rolling with each aftershock, and more rocks and shingle was falling down the banks. As I approached the Ferrymead bridge I was gob smacked. Hundreds of people were walking towards Redcliffs. Some had their shoes in their hands. They all looked shocked. One lady was hysterical. It looked like the crowds walking home in New York on 9/11. I couldn’t understand. I didnt know what was happening in Christchurch. I had to head for the Heathcote valley as my car couldn’t cross the damaged bridge. Many people were out on the roads in little huddles too scared to go inside because of the after shocks and two scared to stay out because of the rocks.

My little car struggled through damaged cracked roads. Some times the footpath and rocks were an alternative to the road. The sea was miles out and although it was now 3 hours since the quake it looked ominious. Surely we can’t get a tsunami now. At last I was in Opawa where my daughter lived. Water every where as the Heathcote was trying to breach its banks. I found the family in tears but ok. Back out to my now muddy little red Diahatsu. Back down River Law terrace more terrified of the water than anything. On to the motorway across to Brighton. We barely moved. It was gridlock. At the hospital in Linwood Ave I was amazed to see a taxi barely visable in the gate way almost covered with liqufaction. An hour later outside a stadium a sink hole contained a station wagon. I was very close. I didn’t want to go in too. The liqufaction and water became worse. The traffic was massive. Lower Pages Road was covered in water from the Avon. Was I going to get through. I was very scared at this stage The water was up the side of my door. It must have covered my exhust. What if the engine stopped. I crept really close to the car in front. Where he went I followed. I just hoped he could see holes in the road I couldn’t see. When he dodged around something I followed. It was really scary. Conditions were deterioating.

At last I got up on the bridge into Brighton. What an advert for the tiniest car in New Zealand. My heart was beating wildly. It was the only time I was really scared. Down Keyes road was like a drive down the sandhills on the beach. Lots of water, lots of sand and a few people. Into Bower Ave. and I could see a great hole at the entrace to my street. I struggled through Bower Ave. I felt sick . My house would be gone. Many were. I skirted around the great sink hole which contained a Toyota. My house was still standing. Inside every thing was on the ground but my terrified dog had managed to dodge the falling furniture. All night this big dog clung to me in my little bed. We had no power no toilet and no water and I had many jars of jam on the floor to clean up but we had survived.

The earth quake had a sting in its tail. A few days later a gas camp stove blew up in my kitchen, blowing the dog through the ranch slider, and causing more damage then any earthquake. I would have been another eathquake causality according to the firemen who attended. I had just started my walk back to the house from the Portaloo when my house exploded and windows and doors blew open or out. My neighbour thought it was the Grand Chanellor falling. I shook for quite a while, and even now jump if I hear a loud noise. My heavily coated dog survived amazingly, but lands on my bed with a leap if anything unforseen occurs. She is very nervous . I just hope we can all get back to normal soon.

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