I remember pulling the curtains on the the 22nd February and thinking it was a very strange light outside that morning. My husband left early to go to Wellington to work for 3 days. I was going to go to the Palms shopping mall to have lunch but because it was a dull day I decided to stay home. I was watching Joyce Meyer on television when I heard a loud rumbling noise and my chair started to move and I could feel the floor moving under my feet. The entertainment unit was moving about a foot out from the wall on one side then it would go back and the other side would move about a foot out from the wall. It took a while to register it was an earthquake. The pictures on the walls all began to move and fall and I could hear things breaking.
When the shaking stopped I had a quick look through the house and saw the contents of my pantry, fridge and crockery cupboards all spewed out all over the kitchen floor. What an awful mess it made. My bedroom door had shut and I could not open it as the snib had buckled. Unfortunately our transistor radio was in there so I couldnt get to it. All the books had fallen off the shelves in my husbands study, and 2 big filing cabinets had tipped over.
I thought of my elderly neighbour and decided to go and check on her, but my doors were locked and I couldn’t get them open. I managed to get out the ranch slider by lifting the door up and it seemed to unlock and slide. My neighbour was frightened but glad to see me and I suggested we go outside in case there was an aftershock. We stood in her driveway and all the neighbours came running over. They were all upset at the things they had lost and I reminded them it was just stuff and at least we were all still alive. We had no idea of the devastation and loss of lives in our city. While standing outside we saw muddy water coming around the side of the house and then we became aware of liquefaction in our street.
My husband phoned from Wellington and he told me the top had come off the cathedral and he also said the quake was 6.3. My response was “rubbish” as it felt so much stronger than the 7.1 quake in September. A neighbour came over and helped get my bedroom door open which was great as I could see liquifaction coming from behind my bedroom outside and I was afraid it might be going inside.
My son was at University when the earthquake struck. He went to catch a bus home but saw it almost tip over with an aftershock, so decided to walk back to his flat in Lincoln Road. He checked his flat then biked across town through water and sewage to be with me. He stayed with me, however, I didn’t get much sleep as there were aftershocks all through the night.
My husband managed to get a flight home on the Wednesday afternoon. We had no power, water or sewage for 16 days. My cell phone went flat and I had no way of charging it. People were trying to ring me but not getting through. After a few days we were able to use a plug in phone at times. We chose to stay at home and we managed very well. We had a generator lent to us which was a real help. We also purchased a chemical toilet which made life much easier. We were delighted when an army of students arrived to help shovel silt on the Thursday. They worked very hard and did such a great job. On Friday and Saturday nights a helicopter flew into our local park and hot meals and drinking water were delivered to us in wheelbarrows. Tankers of water were brought into our area and we could go and fill our own containers. An elderly man bought a box of groceries to us which included muesli, easy to make meals, fresh fruit and vegetables, drinking water, toilet paper, rubber gloves, and hand sanitiser.
Our roads looked like 4 wheel drive tracks but people worked very long hours and already they are much improved. A lot of people left our area but those of us who stayed looked after one another. My husband made a shower out of a large plastic bottle and it worked very well. We would fill it with water and hang it in our shower cubicle and it gave us a 3 minute shower which was great. It was several days before we got to see any TV coverage of the earthquake. Our house has some nasty cracks but we are hoping it can be fixed.
We really appreciate all the kindness shown to us in the days following the earthquake.
We have since found out that our home is in the red zone so we are going to have to look for a new house to make into our home.