– Mt Pleasant, Christchurch

A Mother’s Story… It was Tuesday 22 Feb 2011, I had just gone out to get the mail and while out there I picked a beautiful rose for Bronte. I was happy to bring a lovely rose for my gal. Once back inside I sat down in the dining room and I heard that all too familiar noise of an impending earthquake but this time it was very loud. Bronte was in the lounge, so I grabbed her and chucked her under our dining table (a strong rimu one) and then it all started. I heard the bricks fall off my house, the lounge ceiling came down, all the kitchen things fell out, all the treasures in the rimu cabinet fell out and my poodle Bonnie was crying, as she was locked in the hallway. Then I heard screaming and crying. And the hot water cylinder burst so I had a river of water running through the house. It felt like the house was rocking back and forward like a ruler being flicked – the intensity was incredible. It was absolutely terrifying. Somehow in that moment I managed to get through to my husband on the mobile and said :”it’s bad, come now” and then the line cut out.

For about two hours Bronte and I lay huddled together under this table. Bronte was remarkably calm – she said “it’s an earthquake mamma”. But she was obviously shocked as she went to sleep and those who know my Bronte girl, know that she is NOT one to sleep during the day haha. I felt that if we moved we may risk our lives, so we stayed cuddling under the table. Eventually Peter arrived home – he was my hero – he made it to us. As the Ferrymead bridge was out he left his car at Ferrymead and ran home. He was shocked at what he saw. I screamed to him to turn the water off at the mains to stop the river of water thru my house.

At this stage it was OMG – we could finally assess the damage – wow – the house – our home was a wreck. It honestly looked like a bomb had hit it.

Our power was out, our water was out but luckily we had many supplies of food and fresh water. Fortunately we were well prepared. All the phone lines were out and the mobile network was overloaded, so we could not contact anyone.

Together Peter and I tag teamed to get the emergency supplies out. Got the emergency bags out, put a radio on. The key thing during this time was to keep Bronte safe, so she spent the next few days living under the strong table.

Our kitchen was covered in about 2 feet of stuff – revolting – a mix of soiled food, spilt alcohol, spilt water and broken things – lots of them. We spent ALL of Wednesday cleaning up this toxic and dangerous mess. When it’s on the floor you realise just how many wine glasses you actually own, lol.

We could finally catch our breath and realised that without facilities eg power, water, sewerage and with the house so dangerous that it was time to leave, so we took up my lovely friend Lynn’s offer to stay at her home. Bronte said to me “I got a brick mum”, as she pulled a brick off the wall of our house. This was the catalyst to finally leave…

Trying to evacuate our home was a nightmare – one that I never hope to have to repeat. Arriving at Lynn’s felt like a surreal experience. It was like coming from a war zone to the Hilton of Avonhead. It had been survival at a very basic level. We spent four days in the house before we finally had enough and left.

Our wee dog Bonnie is with us at Lynn’s but our cat Sky is at home which breaks my heart. We are leaving food out for her but she is seriously spooked and she won’t come when we call her. Very upsetting.

Bronte is doing really well here at Lynn’s. She said: “it was scary” but really she seems great. I am so pleased to report that there are no nightmares this time. But her physical health is a wreck, so day by day I am trying to nurse her back to health.

I have been very shook up about what a close call Bronte had with her life. If I had not grabbed her and chucked her under the table I think my precious wee girl would be no longer but somehow a miracle happened and she survived. One minute later and she would have been squashed by the lounge ceiling.

One major concern for us is our land damage and whether we will be safe to go back to our home. Need to see EQC geotech engineers to know about this. It seems that the house has stood up reasonably still which is amazing but we do have a lot more damage this time, including some pretty meaty structural damage. It is just a matter of waiting.

My heart goes out to everyone who has lost their family or friends. And my heart is with ALL my lovely friends who have lost their homes. As I lived in Mt Pleasant most of my friends lived in that eastern area, so most of my friends are out their homes. My heart is with you and I am so glad that you are ALL safe and alive.

Thanks to all my lovely family and friends for ALL your amazing offers. And a huge thanks to Lynn J, Sam J and Matt J for so willingly having us live in their lovely home. We are blessed to have such good friends and family to support us.

Still feel shattered. But know that I am so blessed to have my husband Peter, and my precious daughter Bronte. We are not sure what the future holds but we have got to have faith…..

IMPORTANT – on a side note – I am on a campaign to get everyone to have an EMERGENCY survival kit – pls do this – pls do not regret not doing this. Pls help share this message.

Update at August 2011
Our home, land and driveway has approximately $400,000-$500,000 worth of damage. It is incredible just how munted our home and community actually are, but for me it comes back to having faith. Faith that in time the earthquakes will stop, faith that in time our home will be repaired or rebuilt and faith in ourselves that we will get through this challenging journey. PS: Our cat Sky turned up and continues to live a cruisey life of bliss.

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