I was in the Art Gallery for the 22/02/2011 quake. When it first started to shake, I thought this one seems quite big. Then I thought “it’s bigger than usual” and voiced it accordingly. The whole gallery seemed to be on an angle.
Two women near me staggered to a doorway and I followed somewhat like a sheep. After it was over, I was hoping to finish looking through the gallery but the inevitable announcement came: leave the building. I realised the meaning of the word surreal.
When I got outside, the first thing I noticed was the dust. I thought the Arts Centre doesn’t look too good. The 5.7 aftershock struck as I was walking past the building north of Cheese Mongers. The top looked like it would fall but it didn’t. I walked into The Square with stunned people walking in the opposite direction. To my horror, I saw the Cathedral down. I then walked along High Street to see whether anyone needed help, I saw people giving CPR to someone. That was when I realised we hadn’t dodged a bullet; there were casualties. On another street, a car was covered in bricks with the horn continuously tooting. In a surreal way, I assumed no-one was in there; no doubt I was wrong.
As I walked past the CTV building, I couldn’t remember what was there. There were rescue workers everywhere so I knew I would be more of a hindrance than help so I kept walking. I saw a woman being escorted away, she had a look of terror on her face and was uncontrollably screaming.
I walked back through The Square, past the Arts Centre and Dux De Lux, past the Museum, to Hagley Park. A large branch had broken off a poplar exposing a wild beehive. The bees were staying close in rather than buzzing everywhere and stinging people as would normally happen. They were obviously as stunned as the rest of us.
After that, I walked through Hagley Park talking to complete strangers. No buses were running so I had to walk home to Papanui.