– From the Arts Centre to our house in St. Martin's

My husband and I never go to the movies during the day, but on this occasion a film we wanted to see was near the end of its time and it was a dull dreary day, so we went to the Academy at the Arts Centre. Just as we came out into the courtyard the quake hit.

Pieces of coping stone fell onto the roof of a ute standing there and rolled close to where we were standing. Everyone stood still and just looked stunned. One or two people were injured. Then there was a rumble and a building collapsed which we later found out was the observatory. Our car was accessible as we had parked on the street, but in just that short time the road was grid locked. We were driving along Durham street , cars were nose to tail, and silt and water were pouring out into the road. It took us three hours to reach home instead of the normal fifteen minutes.

Our grandson from Canada was staying with us and working at Ilam, we asked police in a car near us if they knew what was happening there, but all communications were down. Our two dogs were shut in the laundry room, doors to a china cabinet had been thrown open and glass covered everywhere throughout two rooms, so we let them into the garden which is normally secure. What we hadn’t realised was that the neighbours chimney had fallen through the fence and left a gap through which they escaped. I drove round looking for them and saw that the roads near us and the supermarket had been very badly affected. That evening we had a phone call from a neighbour round the corner to say that he had seen them going by and taken them in for us. All of the earthquakes/aftershocks were dreadful, something I shall never forget.

Mollie Evans. St. Martin’s

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