– Styx Mill Walkway, Northwood, Canterbury, New Zealand

When the first February 22 quake (the 5.6 one) hit I was out for my standard lunch time walk, along the Styx River. Of course I heard the thing coming before I felt it. Like most who live around Christchurch, I just freeze like a statue when I hear that sound, in expectation of what might or might not be about to hit.

It’s a fascinating thing. I happened to be on a straight part of the river, having an uninterrupted view for at least 100 meters in front. When the earthquake hit I had to crouch, as I felt I was going to be knocked over. That’s when I noticed the most amazing thing. The whole length of the Styx River was like a mini Moses and the Red Sea episode – it split down the middle, like a giant 1 meter square post had been dropped along its whole length. It was almost to the point that I could see the river bed – the river literally separated, and washed up and over both river banks momentarily. Of course it quickly came together again, but I will always remember the sound that came from right along the whole river as the water resettled – a sound like the boys make when I swear they are trying their darndest to flood the bathroom by scooting their bottoms up and down the bath – SPLOOOSH, SPLOoosh, sploosh… slowly fading out until the river took on its old form perhaps only 10-15 seconds later.

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