– Riccarton mall and South New Brighton

I was sitting at my desk in the back of our shop in Riccarton mall when i heard the roar and then my world was sent into turmoil. The shop shock, everything fell off the shelves around me, I grabbed my phone and rushed out into the store. It was shaking violently and threw me into the counter, I managed to dive under a table with a couple of workmates and waited for the ground to stop moving. I was petrified, the ground stopped for a couple of seconds so we ran to the door, and out of the mall. People were screaming and running for their lives, the mall looked damaged their was a gas leak and broken glass everywhere.

I waited down a side street – for what seemed liked hours – the ground continuing to roll and rumble, the phones didn’t work and I could hear the choppers overhead. An elderly lady had a radio so we can listen to the news, it wasn’t good. I felt physically sick and couldn’t stop shaking, I looked at my watch and tried to think about where the kids would be, I knew they would be on lunch at school and just prayed that they were both okay. It was the longest time worrying, all around me it was chaos with people crying and trying to get their phones to work. Eventually I got a message to my husband through someone elses phone and told him i was okay.

My car was on the top of Riccarton mall so I had to hitch a ride with a friends family to get out of Riccarton. The ride was crazy, bumper to bumper gridlocked traffic, broken roads and rivers running down what used to be pathways. Finally I got as close as I could to South Brighton, I left the car at Wainoni road and walked in bare feet heading for pages road, it felt like I was in a movie, it was surreal, it felt like this was it and our time was up. Terrifiying. Finally met my husband who had managed to grab the kids from school and drove the car over broken roads and through flooded streets to get to me. We drove home to Estuary Road, the house was a mess, no water, phone power, sewage. No where to wash my filthy feet.

We had less than $10 petrol in the car so we had no choice but to stay in South Brighton, we put the kids to bed in our bedroom and chucked a mattress on the floor for us. We sat up all night , had massive aftershocks every 30 mins or so, felt like a freight train was coming through the house. Finally daylight came and we decided to leave. We hooked up our caravan and packed up our belongings as best we could, packed the dog and hit the road. Took about an hour to travel the usual 5 min drive due through damaged roads, and we finally found a petrol station on the other side of Christchuch and we queued for petrol for 2 hours. It was crazy, felt like everyone was like us, desperate to leave, lots of cars and the only vehicles heading into chch were the army trucks, hundreds of them.

We never returned and now live in the North Island. Both my husband and I lost over 10 kgs each, think it was stress . We are now all okay and getting on with our lives, the kids are good, but it has taken its toll. We are very glad that we are all okay and our family is intact, so many good people lost loved ones, it was horrendous . Our hearts will always be with you christchurch.

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