– Rolleston, Canterbury, New Zealand

All day Monday the 21st Feb, I had a weird feeling of dread, like something was going to happen. I tried to ignore it though!! On the 22nd I was relief teaching in Rolleston and at 12.51 we were having mat time with the kids and could feel what we thought was just an aftershock spread from one end of the centre to the other. The other teacher and I looked at each other and she mouthed ‘shit, that was big!!’ The kids were amazing and kept pretty but one poor wee girl headed straight under a table and was really distressed.

We simply thought it had been a fairly strong aftershock but then starting getting texts from friends and family in the City. My sister in Auckland texted me saying ‘6.3!! Are you ok?’ I got really scared then… Then I started hearing that buildings had come down and people were dead. By this stage, all the staff were really upset and you could feel the panic as we all tried to contact our loved ones… I asked if I could go home early and left as quickly as I could.

Listening to the radio was really devastating as I was hearing the most horrendous stories and just started crying. I didn’t know what I would find when I got back to my house.

Stopped and bought a bottle of wine and arrived home yelling to my neighbours to see if they were ok. Crying and crying and things were all over my floor. Turned on the TV and the pictures were just unreal to me. I could not believe it. At that point the biggest aftershock happened and I flew under the table screaming ‘STOP, STOP, STOP!’ I was so scared that I might have lost friends or family and was shaking so hard. I headed round to friends and the rest of the day/night is a bit of a blur… just lots of crying and sadness.

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