– Harmans Road, Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand

This is a transcript of an interview with Wendy Everingham conducted four weeks after the 4 September 2010 earthquake .

The worst room in the house after the earthquake was John’s CD room. He has thousands and thousands of CDs in there. They had all emptied out into a huge pile. It took him about 4 hours to pick them all up. Now they are still all out of order.

We thought the earthquake had come from the Alpine fault and it came as a bit of a shock to hear it was right here.

In the morning I went down to make sure the Lyttelton Information Centre was all right, only one picture had fallen from the wall. And then it was the Farmer’s Market birthday. Looking back I think I was in a daze, I don’t think I had understood what had really happened. And it did not look so bad here, apart from the Harbour Light and the Empire.

The aftershocks felt like psychological torture. I don’t think I slept much at all between Saturday and Wednesday, and the Wednesday aftershock under the tunnel did me in. I was in the kitchen, unpacking the dish washer. It felt like somebody had slapped me over the head and I fell straight down onto the tiles and hurt my leg. Then I tried to crawl from the kitchen to hide behind the couch and was a mess of tears.

Most of my work is here at the information centre, helping travellers, but there weren’t too many travellers during the earthquake. In the days after the earthquake many locals came into the info-centre. People came in to volunteer with the Timebank, people coming in who didn’t want to be home, so they wanted to be here talking, so I did lots of talking.

I did help some stranded travellers, there were quite a few people finding places to stay. I was ringing up a lot of the information centre providers, finding out who still had a business that was working. Godley House is no longer working as a hotel, Governor’s Bay Hotel, Timeball Station, then there are lots of the old B and B’s where the chimneys have fallen down.

So a lot of time was spent trying to find out that sort of information, so we could tell people where to stay. We were the only Information Centre open in the whole region. Christchurch I-site was closed because it was in the cordoned area, so that was shut for a week. Akaroa wasn’t open either. So we were getting overseas enquiries here about the earthquake. This included the plane crash at Fox Glacier, we had relatives from Australia ring up trying to find out how to get there, so we had a whole lot of different Information Centre things happening.

I can’t believe how many Cantabrians believed it would never happen here. When we moved here from Australia seven and a half years ago, we read up about liquefaction in the suburbs, and that was another reason for buying here in Lyttelton. If you go through the Council stuff, it shows you where all those areas are that can liquefy. So it was a shock for me how many people thought it would never happen here. Why would Canterbury be different than anywhere else? It shows human ignorance. For the record: I did believe it would happen while I live here.

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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