– Mount Pleasant, Canterbury, New Zealand

My husband and I moved to Christchurch with our 4 children on the 1st January 2010, our kids are Harrison age 18, Duncan age 15, Benjamin age 13 and Violet age 10. We found a wonderful house in Mt Pleasant, Harrison began Canterbury University, Duncan and Benjamin started Linwood College and Violet began Mt Pleasant Primary School. My husband Bill, and I began new routines as we established our new lives in Christchurch.

By the beginning of September 2010, our kids had started making new friends and on the 3rd September 2010 Benjamin had 3 teenage boys staying over for the night. We had pizza and xbox games, fun and laughter, Bill and I went to bed about 10pm and told the kids they could stay up late if they were quiet.

September 4th 4.30am I woke up to a roaring noise, thinking that the kids had turned the TV up incredibly loud. I climbed out of bed, started walking towards the bedroom door but before I got 3 steps I was knocked off my feet by the floor violently shaking. I yelled at Bill and started screaming what’s happening?

Bill got to the doorway and said it must be an earthquake, we could hear our daughter screaming and crying, we couldn’t get to her. We live in a multi story house, once the shaking stopped we got to her and made sure she was safe then in the dark moved carefully downstairs to the lounge, Benjamin and his friends were sitting in the lounge scared but okay.

Harrison and Duncan sleep downstairs, but hadn’t come up Bill and I had no torches, no light and started arguing over who should check on them. Within moments both boys came up the narrow stairwell from their rooms to the lounge, they were also fine.

We started thinking what’s happening it was dark outside and we couldn’t tell what the extent of the damage was outside – we huddled in the lounge and waited for light.

While we waited for the sunrise we checked twitter and TVNZ websites for information.

The children that were staying over called their parents, they were all safe and were staying put in there homes till they knew more as well. We looked after our kids and the house visitors till mid morning when it became clear we were in for a long day… little did we know what the next 11 months would bring.

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