– Fendalton, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand

February 22nd 2011 – I was at home when the quake struck. The impact of the shock wave threw me from a seated position to the floor. I stayed there as the entire house shook violently. I prayed. When the shaking stopped, I raced outside wearing only a tee shirt, shorts and jandals. I was so anxious to leave the house that I threw open the ranch slider door of the lounge and jumped the side fence to the street, not bothering to open a garden gate.

As I stood in the street, the edges of the road began to splutter and liquifaction oozed menacingly from all the sides and the sewer grate in the middle of the road. Neighbours gathered in the street but I was so fazed by it all I cannot recall what was said. I tried to use my cell phone to call my wife but, of course, it could not connect. Cautiously, I re-entered the house as aftershocks started, threw on some warmer clothes and shoes, grabbed my car keys and made my way to Hagely Park – the assembly point my wife and I had long ago agreed upon. When I arrived there, a small band of people had gathered already. Although total strangers, we mingled and talked like old friends. It had become quite cold and someone from the group kindly lent me an overcoat.

More aftershocks struck. I saw the verandah of a nearby building on Riccarton Rd collapse onto a car (later I learned someone had died there). Trees in the park moved in unison as aftershocks struck like they were at the centre of a hurricane force wind. Birds stayed in the air, themselves fearful of staying too long on tree branches. And then I saw the CBD dwellers staggering out of the city, looking so lost and shocked, some covered in dust .It reminded me of 911 in New York. Tales were shared and I learned the horrible truth that buildings had collapsed and that people had died.

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