– Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand

I was in my office at Lincoln when the 6.3 struck on 22 Feb 2011. I initially thought it was just another aftershock but it soon became clear that it was indeed a nasty bit of work.

When the shaking stopped I stepped into the corridor and others were commenting and saying things like “that was a decent one”. I decided to go for a wander to see if everyone was ok… someone yelled out that a building had collapsed in town and people were dead. My heart stopped and I rushed back to the office and grabbed my cell phone. This was worse than we had thought. We knew it was nasty but not this bad… I tried to contact my kids and despair set in when I realised the mobile network was flaky. Eventually we all found each other and I felt such relief. Sadness was still to come however when one of my daughters friends couldn’t locate her Mother. The thought that she could be lost in a pile of rubble was inconceivable, but eventually the horrible truth was revealed and it broke our hearts. My son lost a friend too – he was killed in the Iconic Bar on Manchester St. Again our hearts were broken. The emotions ranged from disbelief to anger to heartache and then the depression set in. But, we’re fighting back and supporting those who need it the most. One thing for sure – life has changed. We’re more cautious and always at the ready with candles, batteries, water and a fully stocked pantry and petrol tank. I haven’t slept through the night since Sept 2010 – has anyone?

June 13 2011 brought it all back again and December 23 was a Christmas gift we could very easily have forgone…. Now a year since the February 6.3 quake… it’s still so fresh in our minds, I still have to hold back the tears sometimes. The hardest thing is to keep going and working when there are days that you just don’t want to face anyone. Time is healing and things are slowly getting better – There’s hope the frequency of these shakes reduces eventually. Scientists tell us they will – Mother Nature seems to have her own agenda. It’s been a roller coaster ride. The images of scared and shattered faces and falling buildings and the changing city skyline remind me that I am part of history in the making…. but I do miss the feeling that all is well in my world. However… colour is returning slowly – it’s not completely grey anymore… feelings of dread are fading and I have a lot to be thankful for. Putting things into perspective comes easy now… we are learning to live again.

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