– Acland House, Papanui Road, Canterbury, New Zealand

22 February Earthquake
It started off as a normal day we were back at Acland getting changed out of our school uniform. I was in my room with other girls talking. When the earthquake hit, I was first startled many of us girls just stood thinking it will stop soon. But it didn’t. It roared into action throwing everything off my shelves. I threw myself under my desk and a great timing the draw from under my desk flew out and hit me straight on my forehead I tumbled under my desk and tried to brace myself for what may become worse. All I could hear was that frightening roar of the earthquake and screams of fear from friends around me.

When the earthquake stopped, I first looked around and thought ‘this building stood up to that?’ As I had a glimpse of the roof I could see crack after crack connecting. I grabbed my shoes and joined the stampede of girls to outside. When we all gather round the shock and horror came thrashing through my body. My second home was around me, I had girls that hug me to give me comfort but all I could think about was my family especially my older sister who I knew was in town somewhere and that was all.

Name after name was called as we waited round to see if everyone was out safe and sound. I was becoming cold and frightened as I was only wearing a muscle back and tights. My friend came past holding a spear jersey and offered it to me. In seconds of an aftershock we saw the good old historical ‘Acland’ building come towards us as another violent aftershock hit. In dismay and fear of seeing once a home now was falling to pieces. We quickly changed our meeting space to the tennis courts where Miss Guillemot, (head matron) started to pull out duvets from bottom floors. We all sat in circles trying to come over the shock, when the first report of deaths came to us. Then it struck me people didn’t die on the first earthquake, it doesn’t mean that people won’t lose their life this time. As I broke down in hysterical cries as my sister was not replying to me. My first thought was, is she dead?

I finally got hold of my brother through a year 13’s phone he said “mum wants you home.” As texts were not sending I still did not have contact with my sister. Parents rolled in asking what they could do. I went into the year 13 common room where a radio was going and parents and matrons were doing there best to find away to all get us home safe. I finally got text from my sister saying “all good here try get home.” As more and more kids flooded away, I was wondering how am I going to get home. A mum from my area had just arrived to pick up her kids, they were packing the last few things they could scavenge from there rooms when they saw me and offered a ride home.

As we went down a side street to drop into one of there family members the reality of this devastation hit. You never really think that this would happen to you, you hear it on the news and say what a shame and you live on. But for many people in Christchurch their lives were on hold and they had obstacles in there way to stop them moving forwards, people needed strength from others and themselves to move forwards in this devastation that killed 181 people. Liquefaction surrounded roads driveways and paths. As my day of devastation came to an end, I finally pulled into my driveway knowing I was fine and so was my family.

People hearts, families, homes and belongings were ripped apart on this day and for some have never been stitched up. We over came a devastating event and grew as a community to become closer.

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