– Mt Pleasant, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand

June 13th 2011, was a beautiful morning Bill and I walked Violet to school then took Camper for a long walk around the mountain. At 11.45AM I dropped Duncan and Benjamin off at the bus stop in ferrymead for their noon bus. Linwood College was site sharing with Cashmere high, and Linwood had the 1pm to 5.30pm afternoon shift. They had been back to school since the beginning of April 2011 and bussing to school for the last 3 weeks – previously I had been taking them to and fro because I felt it was safer.
I went to the supermarket in Eastgate and was home by 12.40pm. Harrison was home from university his classes finished at 11am. Harrison was sitting in the lounge when I got home. Bill was in the office and Violet was at the primary school. After putting away the shopping I was sitting in the lounge talking when a large earthquake of a magnitude 5.6 struck at 1:00 pm.

The house shock and things feel off the bookcases, all the books feel to the floor. We knew it was a large shake but then were unsure if school would stay open what would happen? We called Duncan and Benjamin on their celephones; all the kids were being sent to the school field to wait for further instructions. Could we come and get them if they needed us? We confirmed we could come and get them; they just need to let us know if school was to be shut.

Harrison went to the games room upstairs to play on the Xbox and I asked him to stay in the lounge, he thought I was being paranoid, the worst was over. I got him to help me clean up the comics and put them back on the shelves. We were just about finished when at 2:20 pm another large aftershock struck it was a 6.3 magnitude. The bookcases all toppled over again, everything was on the floor but the TV had stayed standing upright. We went outside and checked on the neighbours the elderly couple next door took a while to answer but the lady answered the door, she was okay, shaken but worried.

Again we tried to get hold of Duncan and Benjamin, this time school was shut but Linwood was organising buses to get the kids home or at least back to ferrymead. Violets school was closing as well. Harrison collected violet and Bill and I went down the mountain to wait for the boys. As we got to Ferrymead Bridge we could see a lake of liquefaction on the other side, cars were driving slowly through the watery substance which was at least calf high in places. Ferry road and settlers cress seemed the worst affected area and estuary drive looked clear so we drove that way to the mitre 10 car park, which was here the boys were meeting us.

The small group of shops there were trying to take stock of the situation, power was out but water remained on. The damaged tower of the historic Lyttelton Time ball Station collapsed before dismantling work could be completed. The earthquake also downed phone lines and triggered widespread power outages, leaving around 54,000 households without power. We were one of the lucky one we still had power. We stayed in the car waiting wondering if the bus would get to ferrymead or be blocked by more severe damage, we wondered if we should get closer towards cashmere and pick them up enroot?

There were several strong aftershocks while we waited a 4.4 was the largest. By 4.00pm the bus arrived with the boys, they were safe and sound; my nerves were taking a serious toil. Bill remained calm and was my rock throughout the days that followed.

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