– Rolleston, Canterbury, New Zealand

September 4th 2010 – There is a huge rumble then suddenly the whole room began to shake violently, immediately you are awake, the cats leap off the bed. Almost frozen to the bed your mind struggles to comprehend, then it comes to you “Quake”. Your thoughts are slow to come then a decision is reached, this house is new (only four months since we moved in) it should be okay nothing too heavy to fall on you from above just to stay in bed until the shaking stops. You hear things falling, a tall boy crashes down, things fall off the bedside table. Down the hall you can hear crashing in the kitchen, there goes the fish tank. It is so dark, just waiting for the shaking to stop, this is big the shaking goes on for sometime. At last it stops, my husband gets out of bed and finds a torch, checking out what has fallen. I quickly get dressed and head for the lounge. Damage is not too bad just broken items from the pantry, start to try and rescue the tropical fish from the floor. Riff Raff the cat wanders in checking out the mess on the floor he doesn’t seem bothered at all, his sister Rascal is not to be seen (later it is determined she will spend the whole day up in the ceiling of the garage). These cats are young just 6 months old at least they didn’t take off. Just then the neighbours turn up to make sure we are okay. My cell phone rings, it is work, I am needed.

I have to leave my husband cleaning up the mess. I know he has family members nearby to see. I drive around a couple of streets to pick up a work colleague, a stranger stops me to ask where the shake originated and how big, information is coming in slowly over the car radio and I am able to tell him it was centered not far from here and about 7. Driving into the city from Rolleston was surreal. I took the back roads, came across 2 dogs in the middle of the road confused, there was the odd person out and about but not many. Once in town I drove over bridges not giving it a second thought, through the centre of town, down Colombo passed the cathedral to the Crowne Plaza Hotel where I worked. There was quite a bit of damage I saw on my way, but it really was only snippets. In a way you felt you were in a cocoon only observing the little bits of what you could see around you, the enormity of what had happened was yet to be realised. Little did I know then what was to come months later. The rest of the day was focused on the Hotel, guests and staff.

Many of us worked tirelessly over the following days and weeks to get the Hotel functioning back to where it was pre September 4th 2010 as best we could.

Finally I got home that day about 5.00pm and catch up with what has been happening throughout the day there.

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