– Fendalton, Canterbury, New Zealand

After a quick visit to Merivale shops I decided to go home for a quick cuppa and watch Emmerdale before heading to South City to collect my birthday present. The quake started and our new massive flat screen TV fell forward, I leapt up and caught it. I stood for the whole of the February Earthquake holding a huge TV unable to put it down as the house shook and buckled.

I put the dog out in case the house collapsed on top of her and drove to school around the corner. The kids were all in the playground, liquefaction rising from the tarmac, my son was safe. Many of the kids thought their parents were dead, crying and upset we hugged each other and waited for parents to make their way through the gridlocked traffic to school, helicopters overhead, aftershocks beneath us.

Messages from both daughters at Canterbury Uni they were safe, my husband ashen faced appeared after a traumatic drive home through the devastation from Linwood. My husband saw the worst of it, women in the street screaming tearing at their hair, homes collapsed, main roads with half the road dropped by a couple of feet, buildings around his workplace spitting bricks like broken teeth. There is nothing more terrifying than the power of Mother Nature, there is no negotiation, no empathy, just the sheer release of energy.

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