– Aranui, Canterbury, New Zealand

22nd February 2011. I was standing in the kitchen doing the dishes and talking to my 15 month old son who was behind me on floor playing with some pots and pans. I heard the familiar sound of an aftershock coming I stood there for a second wondering if it was going to get bigger or not. It got bigger, the water from the sink was coming out in waves and landing on the floor, everything in the kitchen cupboards was falling out almost on top of my son, I turned and tried to pick him up but I slipped on the wet floor, I got up and tried again, I fell over again this time landing hard on my knees, once more I got up and fell over I then gave up and crawled to my son, he was sitting there on the floor arms stretched out to me, screaming with a look of absolute horror on his face, I grabbed hold of him and huddled over him protecting him from falling objects. I started screaming “stop please just stop” It eventually did, It was the longest 20 seconds of my life. I went to get up off the floor and noticed a lot of blood, I started to cry and rip the clothes of my son trying to find the source of the blood, thankfully it wasn’t him, I then noticed a cut on my hand and thought thank god it is just me bleeding. I picked my son up and went outsdie to the front lawn, my sister from next door came over and asked if I was ok I said yes I just have a small cut, she looked at it and said thats not a small cut, I said too bad there is not much I can do about it. She went back into her house and was looking for her first aid kit, I told her not to worry just go pick your son up from school. Another neighbour from up the street gave me some fresh water to wash my hand and I tied a flannel around it. I sat on my front lawn with my son waiting for my sister to get back from school, while waiting another man from up the street pulled his car over and offered to bandage my hand, I was very grateful. My sister finally arrived home, we decided to put our tents up in the back yard as we had no power or water again and there was broken glass all through the house, we knew this quake had been much worse than the September one. I tried to call my husband but my cell phone died as I was dialling, my husband finally arrived home 3 hours later after abandoning the car and wading through knee deep water to get home. He asked if we were ok, I said yes, he then asked what was wrong with my hand so I showed him it, he said I should have it looked at seeing as I was pregnant at the time (I had forgotten about the pregnancy up until then), I rung up healthline as it was the only number that wasn’t overloaded and they told me to try and make my way to sanitarium in Papanui, I explained to them that we were in Aranui and were pretty much trapped due to water and liquefaction, they said that was all the advice they could give. We got in the car and decided to try and make it to Papanui, it was all ok until we got around the corner to the Anzac Drive bridge, there was a gap of at least 30 cm where part of the bridge had sunk, I told my husband to turn back and not worry but he decided to risk driving over the bridge, I couldn’t believe the destruction along Anzac Drive and Travis Road, but as we got closer to Papanui driving down qe2 drive it was almost as if we had driven to another city the damage was minimal compared to the devastation we had driven through. We made it to sanitarium and was seen promptly by a doctor, I needed stitches and was given antibiotics, I was not allowed a tetanus because it is not safe during pregnancy. The doctors then listened for a heartbeat from baby thankfully they found it, I thought something might have happened to the baby when I fell on floor. We then drove home but the Anzac Drive bridge was closed and the only bridge open was the Wainoni Rd one we waited in traffic for 45 minutes just to get across the river. The next week passed in a bit of a blur, we slept in the tent and cooked on the bbq, we had our neighbours over for tea because the meat in the freezer was defrosting fast with no power. We had no sewerage and had to dig a long drop in the back yard until chemical toilets were dropped off several weeks later. I also had to make a 3 hour round trip daily to Papanui to have my dressing changed, despite this I got an infection and had to go to the hospital to have my wound cleaned out and receive IV antibiotics, they also prescribed me some more oral antibiotics but the challenge was trying to find a pharmacy that was open, the closest one to me was in Papanui. It was difficult to avoid infection because of the living conditions, and during the second week after the quake I decided it was getting too hard to live like this with a 15 month old, being pregnant and injured so I loaded up the car and went to stay with relatives in Nelson. My husband stayed at home to look after the house. I stayed in Nelson for 2 weeks, and returned once water and power had been restored. Life on the eastside of Christchurch was not easy we had to travel to Riccarton or Papanui just to do the grocery shopping because everything on this side of town was closed even now 7 months later things are only just starting to get back to normal.

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