– Cashel Street, Christchurch Central, Canterbury, New Zealand

September was a practice run, although nothing could have prepared us for Feb 22. I was in my office building in Cashel Mall, I dived under a desk where I stayed with bits of the ceiling, computer monitors, bricks from the external walls and glass all smashing on the desk above me. The noise was intense, I held on to the desk and couldn’t stop shaking. When it stopped we checked we were all ok and then headed off downstairs where the devastation was unbelievable. I don’t remember very much, except for running into Country Road as a colleague and I thought we could hear someone screaming inside – it was just the alarm. We made our way dazed and confused past some horrific sights, up to the Bridge of Remembrance where I tried to text my husband with a colleague’s phone as mine was under debris in the office. The next thing I knew my husband was there, hugging me. It took hours to get to school to pick up the children and even longer to make contact with my parents who were in the CBD. The house was very badly damaged and we had no power or water for almost 3 weeks. We only got our sewerage back a month ago. BUT we were all safe and at the end of the day that’s all that really matters.

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