– Beckenham, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand

This is a transcript of an interview with Tara Ridge conducted shortly after the 22 February 2011 earthquake.

I am Tara Ridge, I am 15 and I was in Beckenham when the earthquake happened. I was just out of school, ‘cause it finished at 12, I think because of the teacher strike, and so we just got to my friend’s house in Beckenham. Thank goodness I did not go into town ‘cause that’s what I was thinking of doing. So I just got changed out of my school uniform and put it in my bag and then it happened. I was in my friend’s bedroom and I remember I tried to run to the door, but I could hardy walk it was shaking so much. My friend had been in the bathroom and she came out trying to pull her jeans up as much as she could … so we headed towards the front door. Her Mum had run down the hall way and told us to get into the door way. We stood there and waited till it stopped.

My friend’s Mum had to walk through the narrow hallway, which had a tall bookcase full of books in it. That tipped over and was leaning against the opposite wall. So we’re not sure how she managed to get to us without being squashed.

We stayed there for a little bit and then we ended up going into the master bedroom ‘cause that was the safest side of the house. My friend’s room has a brick fire wall, double layer bricks, on the outside wall and one layer had fallen out. You couldn’t see through, but there was a big obvious crack in her bedroom. So we stayed on the safer side of the house, tried to find radios and text people.

I think the first time [the September earthquake], with the 7.1, it was dark and I was pretty scared, ‘cause I had never felt anything like that. But with the 6, I was pretty worried but I wasn’t as much as in September. My friend freaked out but I handled it until Mum called me. She was in Lyttelton, and our house is only 500 metres from the epicentre, so Mum was pretty worried.

We ended up sitting out on the street, but Mum didn’t have any petrol in her car, so she had to borrow the neighbour’s little sports car and drive over Dyers Pass, but even that was quite dangerous, because there were lots of rocks falling. My dad came at 5 or 6 o’clock over the Pass and he said that a rock came down right in front of him.

There was a school called Portside High in the community centre down the road [in Lyttelton] that was really good and I met a whole bunch of new people. [Several Lyttelton teachers offered a wide variety of subjects for any student who wanted to come. It ran for about two weeks, every day from 9.30-12.30] I went to a song writing course with Adam from the Eastern. He really liked my song so he said he would record it with me, so that was a whole new thing too. At the Portside High we could choose a whole bunch of things, depending on the day, I did song writing, Spanish, I did banjo… lots of really cool stuff… you could do cooking too… we did some creative writing, all taught by different people.

The hardest was having this sense of normality taken, because I used to go into town a lot, just to take photos and hang out around there. Seeing all those landmarks that you have grown up with, seeing all that gone… it is really tough. You can’t go in there any more.

What I will always remember is how lucky we are, how every one of my family was safe and all my friends. I am happy it didn’t happen right in the middle of me growing up ‘cause that would have bungled things up, but now I have a whole lot of memories of Christchurch before everything happened.

This transcript is from one of a series of interviews carried out by Bettina Evans of Project Lyttelton. We are very grateful to Bettina and the interviewees for allowing their interview transcripts to be posted on QuakeStories.

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