I’m from Christchurch but live and work in Wellington. When the February 2011 earthquake struck I was at work.
I first heard that something had happened from my Mum. She works at Sumner Library and had been in a nearby cafe when it struck. She rang me to tell me what happened. I knew something was really wrong because I’ve never heard her sound so terrified. I think she was in tears. She described the shaking and the huge amount of dust in the street outside. She asked me if I could reach my 92 year old Nana, who lives in Opawa, as she hadn’t been able to get through to anyone in Christchurch.
I rang and rang and couldn’t get through the first time but the second time someone answered. It turned out one of the nurses that visits Nana at home was there at the time. She explained that my Nana had been knocked to the ground and cut herself. She was alright but the lady wasn’t strong enough to lift her back up. I suggested she see if someone at nearby Opawa school could help, as most of the neighbours would probably have been at work. I then rang back my Mum and could tell her Nana was fine. She still sounded terrified.
I spent the rest of the afternoon ringing other family members, on landlines, texting all my friends to check on them too and pressing refresh on Facebook as people posted status updates. By this stage other people around the office were talking about the earthquake and talking about fatalities and that buildings had collapsed. I really didn’t want to hear any news or see anything until I knew all my friends and family were safe.