I wrote this on my blog on the day following the 22nd Feb earthquake.
We all survived a 7.1 quake, and you would think that the buildings that were unstable, had been bulldozed, or unoccupied. Imagine how bad yesterday would have been if they had still been there… as it is shudder it is bad. My city is levelled, and all I can say at the moment, bulldoze them all, only the cathedral needs to be rebuilt. I’m all for heritage but not at this cost. Imagine if Manchester Courts had still been standing, like some people protested.
It was only a 6.3, but it’s taken down buildings. The cathedral has lost its spire, the high risers that withstood the 7.1 collapsed. Were they weakened by previous quakes? They were structurally sound, but no longer earthquake proof??? I suppose in the months to come we will find out, now it’s about getting out the people trapped.
Thankfully, I work in a building that has been strengthened in the last 5 years. I was at my desk, trying to get work done and eat my lunch (can’t remember if I had finished it or not). There was a tremor, you are a bit “just a quake” about it for a moment (we’ve had a few over the last few months) . Then it gets stronger, you don’t think and you are under the desk. But then it get even stronger, you are being moved about and desperately trying to grab the leg of the desk to stop being thrown over the other side of the room. It finally stops.
Others in the room are yelling get out. I’m a little more relaxed, the building is still standing, and its stopped, what’s the panic? But I get caught up with the others panic and grab my bag and exit the building. I’m still rather relaxed down in the car park, one chick was bleeding, so I went to the medical centre (on the other side of the car park) and grabbed a nurse.
After this point I took stock of the building, the level one window had completely blown out, covering the exit of the car park, and one of the horizontal beams had a big crack in it. I am a little less relaxed about the building and the quake now. No one wants to go past the building to exit the car park, so the back fence is kicked in the and we escaped out there.
I probably spent half an hour outside on the street, it was slightly surreal, you tried to contact friends and family but no mobiles were working. There were rumours going around, from people walking past and the odd person who had managed to call someone, the cathedral was completely destroyed, a cliff had collapsed in Sumner. The traffic was already chokka by then, but I just wanted home. My car was parked next to a building that was looking a bit dodgy, so I rushed it, in and out. I quickest on record.
I didn’t want to drive back through the city with all those dodgy buildings, so I started to circle around the city. I found my self stuck in traffic down Memorial Ave, the radio was giving sketchy info and my cell was still not working. I eventually heard from my family in the city, that they were OK. It took 2hrs, but I eventually got home (in Cashmere), after coming through Hornby, Halswell.
When I got home, the house looked fine, the kitchen was a bit of a mess, a few glasses broken, but nothing serious. On the drive back, one of the things that was a main issue for me was Ironman (I was entered in Taupo Ironman in just under 2 weeks, it had dominated my life and thoughts for the last few months, so it was on my mind), yes rather selfish… will this have any effect on my race? First thought was for my bike, was it ok. When I walked in the door it was the first thing I checked… it was all ok, not touched, phew. It seems a meaningless worry now, a bike can be replaced.
I finally managed to call my partner, he was over at his sisters who had power. I went and joined him, and finally got on the internet and saw the images for the first time. The Pyne Gould Guinness building totally collapsed, Cashel and High street look like a war zone… my old primary school in Redcliffs had the cliffs collapsed behind it.
His parents were also there, their place is in pretty bad shape. Neither of them had been home, thank god. Though his mother had been in Lyttleton (the epicentre) at the time. Then it was a case of trying to contact friends and make sure they are all OK. I think all close friends are OK, but who knows who else I know who are trapped or even dead.
I’m not sure what will happen next, I think I will be very happy to get out of the city to Taupo next Tuesday