– Sunnynook, Auckland, New Zealand

I wasn’t directly involved in the earthquake, but the events of the day still had a significant impact. Being originally from California, I was quite used to reports of earthquakes and was somewhat numb to those initial reports coming from Christchurch. At the time, my job was as a census-taker for the 2011 Census. In a bit of irony, after those initial reports, my next visit was to a young mother whose husband was in Christchurch doing some consulting work. She was obviously distressed, but had the presence of mind to keep her children isolated from the reports. She had moved her two young children to the bedroom where they could be entertained by a DVD playing some cartoon while she watched the TV in the living room for some indication of the area where her husband might be. Hours after that visit came the directive to cease all census-taking operations.

A few months later I stopped by to see if that young woman’s partner had survived. I learned then that he was still in Christchurch, recovering from having a limb amputated. I also learned that she had spent an agonising eight days trying to find out if her husband was still alive. My heart goes out to that young lady every time I hear another story about Christchurch.

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