– Sunvale Terrace Cashmere Hills, New Zealand

Copy of an email sent to friends on 5th September 2010…..

Thanks for your emails and concerns. To tell you the truth it is probably one of the scariest experiences I have been through. Normally with earthquakes you get a bit of shaking, creaking etc and then it goes and you think ‘was that an earthquake or a truck?’ Well not this one. It woke us up but then it went on and on and got worse. By this time you are fully awake and think it’s time to head to a doorway, but it’s dark and you stumble around trying to find the doorway. John got up so fast he just about passed out. We called to Chris and he was alright so we piled into his room grabbing a flashlight and shower radio as we had no power. Aftershocks came almost immediately which were also frightening. There have been over 50 since and while they are subsiding it is still a constant reminder that the earth is settling and can be unnerving. Chris wasn’t too fazed; the cat however was traumatised and went under his bed for the next three hours.

Fortunately for us the damage was minimal. We lost a vase which was a wedding gift and have a crack on the corner of the house and one in the ceiling. Others haven’t been so lucky although they say we have dodged the bullet as there were no deaths or major injuries. If it had occurred during the day…

Poor Leigh and Rob (Jo’s niece) had a worse time at Pines Beach. We went out there today and their house moved about half a metre, the deck at the front is now a ramp, silt covers the whole back yard and basically it is unlivable. They are currently staying with Rob’s parents at Rangiora. The kids are a bit anxious and haven’t slept well or want to go back. Hopefully by the end of the week there will be some assessment done. (NB an update on their situation as at 2016 – they never did live there again. They had full replacement insurance on their simple two bedroom house and their insurer Tower insurance were leaning to a rebuild until the area was red zoned. It then changed to a ‘repair’ and they were offered $9000! They are still paying premiums on a house they no longer live in which is standing derelict and are getting legal help. They have moved three times and now rent not own a property.)

Email sent 7th September….

We are coping well although I have to say that the aftershocks can be unsettling especially as the ones last night were about 5.3 and very jolting. I was out of bed at one of them and half way to the door frame. I used to find previous earthquakes experienced were a bit of a novelty but that has changed.

Most of you will know that it was the same level on the Richter scale as the one in Haiti. What a difference in the outcome though with no casualties! That is such a blessing. We still have to boil water and schools are off all week.

Here are some things I found helpful and will mention in case it may help you. We all know about the emergency kit etc and that is important but in the immediate time after the quake these are the things we found most helpful. First a handy torch to stop you groping round in the dark, a cell phone that is charged for phoning/txting, a phone that can plug in as with no power we could not use our hand held but had an old cord phone we use in the garage, and finally a portable radio. We have a shower radio and this was a lifeline to hear what was going and we were glued to it for several hours. We have an emergency kit in the basement which probably isn’t the ideal place but having immediate access to a radio and phone was a great relief. This was all because it was dark and our power was out but if anything is really bad then the power will usually be lost.

Someone said ‘your nerves must be shot’

Pretty much. John doesn’t want to sleep in our room tonight, we may sleep in the hall. We have had offers from friends or even using our caravan. I think it is because there has been talk that there may still be a mag 6 one to come and I don’t fancy that. So far all the bad ones have been when we have been home so I am seeing home as not a safe place.

Email 9th September…

Community spirit has been strong, we had a nasty aftershock yesterday which was only 5.1 but only 6km deep and near the peninsula. It was short (thank goodness) and sharp and made our microwave fly out of its slot onto the kitchen floor just missing John who had ducked into the door frame. The turntable smashed and I don’t fancy using it again anyway. At least the aftershocks are fewer although in the paper this morning they said there have been 355 seismic shocks since Saturday and 2 hours 49 minutes total of tremors!

A word about aftershocks-
It’s the aftershocks that have spooked everyone. They are a constant reminder that it’s not over yet and damage could still occur – as did with the 5.1 on the Wednesday which was worse over this side of town. There was also talk that it is common for an aftershock to be one point lower than the main quake so we have all been nervous awaiting that. for the first few days you would be up out of your seat/bed heading smartly for the doorway. Now you generally stay put and can assess (as we are all now experts) whether it is in the 3 range or 4 range. Tonight the 12th there was a 4.5 at 5.30pm which lasted a few seconds. Cat didn’t leave her chair for once but didn’t look too impressed. These may last for weeks – oh joy. Our house looks like we are packing to move. All the pictures are off the walls, everything off the hutch dresser and glassware from the corner cabinet and fancy glasses cabinet.

Note – everything was back in place by the February quake and all was broken – including another microwave that shot out of the slot in the wall.

Tell your story Report this story

Report this Story as Inappropriate

If you've noticed any inappropriate content in this story or feel that the story contains privacy violations, please fill out the form below.

We'll review your report and remove information that is in violation of our policies.

We'll only use your email address to let you know about the result of your report.