– Hotel Grand Chancellor, Cashel Street, Christchurch

On the morning of the 4th of September 2010 when our city was struck with its first major earthquake, I was staying on the 24th floor of the 2nd highest building in Christchurch, the Hotel Grand Chancellor.

At 4:35am I had a rude awakening from my dad yelling, telling us all to get into the doorway. I literally had no idea what the flip was going on so I through myself out of bed and made my way through the dark towards the familiar voice. Along with it being pitch black the room was being swayed from side to side so I couldn’t even stand. It was a feeling that you would normally experiences on a roller coast on the Gold Coast. I tripped over my sister’s bed and didn’t even make it to the doorway I just crouched down and waited for this bad dream like event to end.

The earthquake was said to have lasted 45 seconds, which seemed like a cliqued forever. After the loud rumbling ended the building continued to lurch from side to side as the shockwaves faded. Initially I felt sick, I felt I had been at Dream World on the Gold Coast. We spend a few minutes gathering some things and putting on some warmer clothes and then headed out of the room into a city that would be changed indefinitely. We were guided down a cracked stairwell by a hotel employee and went out onto the chilly street, along with the jaded hotel staff and tourists.

I remember leaving the hotel room and seeing a smashed vase on the level floor, with glass and water all over the floor. This first hit me as I realised damage has been done.

We waited out in the cold until we finally could contact mum and then proceeded to walk through our shaken city to a point where we could meet. We walked through streets with bricks covering the road, cracks in the footpath and odd piles of sand making it look like the sandman had stopped by. After a bumpy ride home we all fell asleep around the fire in our cold dark house.

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