– Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand

Dec 23rd, and we had just shifted from our 1st rental to a temporary home supplied by friends, so that the owners of the ‘rental’ could return for their annual holiday from overseas. Left the rental all clean and tidy and ‘earthquake proofed.’

I’m standing in our friends house, only 400 yards from the rental, and NEK Minut, she hits, bottles, glass, plaster, pieces of roof tile, falling all around, the contents of their pantry all over the floor, the sliding door into the hall, jammed open with a bent track, the lounge wall, 2 inches away from the floor, the bench 4 inches out of position, plaster walls ripped, French doors blew open, light fittings hanging, pictures falling, everything everywhere.

We begin the tidy up till I remember the old folks who live next door to my friends, I head down the steep drive, across the round about, and up 66 steps to their house, get to the top, and check they are OK, which they are, and down I go, back home, 1/4 the way up the steep drive she hits again, and I have to grab a tree and hold on, (1st time outside for a quake). I look up and see the house moving to one rithym the retainer walls to another, and my car at the top doing the jig, and wondering what to do if it comes down to greet me. I hear a smashing window to my rear, twice.

Back up 66 steps to the Nieghbours, they are OK but lots of broken stuff, tell them I think they have a window broken and they say a friend will check on it later. Back down the steps and home to a mess. The house had its tiled roof removed after Sept, and still little pieces of roof tile fell out cracks in the inside walls. Big tidy up, and then back to the rental to see the damage, as the owners were due back in 3 days, and believe it or not 2 plastic containers had fallen in the pantry, and that was all. My car back at the friends house had locked its steering, it got shaken about so much. Rocks that were pinned by Cerra, above the friends house had swiveled on their access. One rock fell and grazed one of their parked cars. The town of Lyttelton was very quiet for the afternoon, till people settled down in the evening and the street brightened up with folk.

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