– Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand

This is a transcript of an interview with Sue-Ellen Sandilands conducted shortly after the 4 September 2010 earthquake .

Before I was even awake I was standing under the door frame. And I was not only standing there, I was pushing the door jambs apart and I was standing there thinking “ I hope this is what I am supposed to do, it hasn’t changed, has it?’

The three or four days after the main earthquake my whole body quiverred, as if I was on a boat.

I had this queasy feeling constantly, and completely no concentration… I ‘d pick up a book and I’d only read half a page and get up and do something else.

We spend a lot of time down at the Lyttelton Info Centre, I couldn’t put my mind to any of my proper work jobs other than what had to be done. The info centre was a drop-in centre where anybody could go. You could just turn up and talk to people or you could feel like you were doing something by baking some scones and taking them down there, – so you felt as if you were helping out, but part of it was ‘I want to be with other people’... you weren’t quite sure whether you were the giver or receiver.

I think I thought quite a bit about how fortunate we were that we had no deaths. We compared it to Haiti, where they had the same strength earthquake and so much damage and so many people dying and still suffering from it. There was even a bit of guilt that we survived it so well.

My brother rang me from Brisbane. He never rings me. I have been in New Zealand for 35 years and had maybe one phone call from him and that was before he came to visit me 30 years ago. So this was quite out of the blue that he rang. So he was ringing to see how I was after the earthquake and he had just been to Japan and he said “I know what you feel like, ‘cause I have been to a simulator while I was there and I experienced a 7. ” and I said – I had just looked on geo net, “We just have had 344 aftershocks!” I just couldn’t let it go. And he said “Oh, have you? Oh!- Gosh!”

This transcript is from one of a series of interviews carried out by Bettina Evans of Project Lyttelton . We are very grateful to Bettina and the interviewees for allowing their interview transcripts to be posted on QuakeStories.

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