– Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand

What has changed for me in Christchurch where I have lived all my life after a year of nearly 8,000 earthquakes and aftershocks….

My cellphones are continually charged.
I have both Telecom and Vodafone cell phones.
We now have got an old push button- plugged into the wall- home phone again.
I have 3 emergency kits – one in each car and one at home.
I continually carry cash in my wallet.
I no longer spend time in shopping malls.
I haven’t been on a shopping expedition since Feb 2011.
I never take my children grocery shopping anymore in case we have an event and I cant protect them from falling stock.
I have yet to go back to Sumner, Redcliffs, Mt Pleasant or Lyttelton which I used to visit often.
I continually ensure we have large supplies of water.
I have to boil any water we drink.
I never let my car fuel fall lower than half a tank.
When entering a building I check for exits and cracks/damage.
I don’t park in car parking buildings.
If I have to go to a “Red Zone” area for work then I call my husband and let him know where I am.
Our children’s school have put in place a “text” system where you get a “all children safe but please collect” message as soon as they can account for everyone.
I no longer carry a handbag but have a “fashionable” backpack.
We all have a torch besides our bed
Listening to “Radio Live” and “Talkback” is now vital for info.
Saying your house is “fine” means you probably have around $60 k’s worth of damage but at least you aren’t written off or Red Zoned.
People outside of Christchurch ask you “If you have been personally affected”
Seeing porta loos scattered around the city.
Jumping at a truck going past but not flinching when a military helicopter flies over.
Not flushing your loo frequently.
An overdose of canned food in your pantry.
Driving at 30km’s and feeling like you are speeding
Feeling nervous when being too far away from my husband and children.
Being very emotional.
My High School is gone as is my favourite pub, my Church where I was affirmed is out of bounds and my city is devastated…. it is like every memory is being erased.
We have removed a sliding door and a door from rooms in the house to make them more safe.
We leave a night light on.
My car no longer sits in the garage and is parked in the driveway facing the road ready to leave.
I cannot increase my insurance so cannot buy anything of real value; renovate or extend.
I no longer find it strange to have a chat to the “Pooman” who uses our street drains as others are buggered.
I know my neighbours really well.
I have discovered the power of hugs from total strangers.
I have seen grown men cry and cops look helpless.
I find that I cannot leave this city despite my misgivings or private moments of uncertainty (am I risking my children and husbands lives?)
What I now know about earthquakes I could write a book on
I can guess pretty correctly the magnitude and the faultline the shake has originated from.
I am reliant on media, Facebook and email to see what my CBD now looks like as I can’t go in there myself.
TRAFFIC!!!!! on the western side of town…
I have to re-think how I am going to get to certain places or ask around to find out where a business has moved to.
My youngest child’s life has mostly revolved around earthquakes (12/14 months)
My oldest child has learnt to turtle too many times to count.
Facebook is my friend in the dead of the shakey night.
It now takes upto 15 minutes for my heartrate to get back to normal after a 5.0 or over shake.
Blutack is our new bestfriend
EQC is our new needed but unwanted bestfriend.
We live like we are nearly moving with pictures down off walls, ornaments back in boxes, shades removed from lights and emergency bags packed near exits.
Geonet is my top favourite website by default
I have changed the area where my children play so that they are away from windows or objects that could fall.
I have had so many days off this past year caused from earthquakes, aftershocks, road closures, liquifaction and State of Emergencies I feel almost guilty for needing a holiday!

I have also seen changes in people for the better. Strangers talking to strangers; so-called drunken students spending days and days shovelling shit; huge displays of courage, strength and compassion and the outpouring of money, time, unitedness and kindness of a nation.
The most common text message for the past year has been “R U OK????”
- R U … alive?
-R U … needing help?
-R U… having an ok day?
-R U … needing a cuddle?

They say that what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.
For most of us it hasn’t killed us but it has made us face our fears, face depression, face anxiety, face uncertainty, face an unwanted rollercoaster ride that never stops, face losing a loved one, face losing a job, face not wanting to go to work, face losing a home, face losing a work colleague, face feeling emotional, face upset children, face trauma, face moving and face losing our beloved city.

They say that Cantabrians are tough, stoic and resiliant.

I just think that whether we recognise it or not; our hearts are so entrenched in this very special city that we CAN’T let Mother Nature beat us for if we do then the very soul of Christchurch is broken and THAT is unthinkable

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