– Foster Terrace, Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand

This is a transcript of an interview with Margaret Jefferies conducted shortly after the 4 September 2010 earthquake .

I am Margaret Jefferies, I live in Foster Terrace and I am 65.
My first reaction when the earthquake hit was “Oh my God, if it’s this big here, how big is it in Wellington?” Because I have been so believing it’s Wellington that’s the earthquake place. And then I thought “My children are in Wellington! How are they coping? This will be terrifying!” knowing with distance it will get smaller, so that was my first reaction. But I must have then found out it was local.

With the subsequent aftershocks that were happening in the night I did not want to get caught in my pyjamas if the house fell apart. I am not scared being seen in my pyjamas but I knew it would be cold outside. So I went back to bed with my Farmer’s market jacket on and these boots. I thought I am gonna be ready if anything really bad happens.

In my mind I knew that all aftershocks are smaller than the main one, we’ve got through the big one so the next ones will be fine. So that buoyed you up.

But yesterday I noticed I was getting giddy or dizzy, losing balance. Because I had a few health problems I thought ‘Is this another health problem? I need to check this out to make sure whether it’s earthquake related or not.” so I looked it up on the internet and it’s quite common after an earthquake, so that was good to know. And your guts are stewed up. Sometimes you have diarrhea with it or you can feel your stomach churning round a bit.

It’s quite an incredible thing that everyone has gone through the same experience. And there is a surreal thing too, how life gets more and more hectic and suddenly – chop! – everything stops – no meetings, it’s quite a nice feeling in a way. All that business stops, and the REAL stuff comes in.

The number of people that want to help – this is happening city-wide – there is probably more people wanting to help than there are people needing to receive. And I think that says something about us, this innate humanness, we want to touch one another, we want to be compassionate. It is lovely to be aware of that, so when yucky things happen we know underneath there is this core of care for one another, I find this really exciting.

You hear different things from different people and whether they are factual or not in some ways doesn’t matter. But somewhere I heard talk of Christchurch as the heart of New Zealand. And then I think – Lyttelton is the portal to that heart.

I love looking at things in different layers. So I am looking at this earthquake through community eyes: What is the significance of this shake-up? What are we to wake up to? What is the purpose? What is our next step here? What is the earth grabbing us and shaking us up for?

This interview is one of a series of interviews carried out by Bettina Evans of Project Lyttelton . We are very grateful to Bettina and the interviewees for allowing their interview transcripts to be posted on QuakeStories.

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