Recently I saw a couple of photos that brought back all the shocking memories of living through one very unsettled city. Early in the morning on 4th September 2010 I was woken by the terrifying noise and shaking of the flat I was living in, right in the heart of Christchurch city. It will be a day I will never forget, a memory of a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. But that one morning was nothing compared to what was to come. There wasn't just one earthquake but many aftershocks to follow.
In all the chaos we found ourselves standing outside on the road, just after 4:30am in the cold after stumbling over fallen bricks and pieces of buildings. The city was in darkness pretty much with only backup generater lighting in some buildings. There was no power, no water, no gas and a deathly quietness.
My flat was ok, with the exception of the door frame tightning around the door, but I could still open it with force, and there were a lot of cracks which continued to lengthen with each new aftershock.
The church across the road was worse off.
The camera that was sitting on top of my dresser disappeared, but was later found when we had daylight. The drawers had all opened in the quake and the clothes inside had made a nice cushion for the camera to land on. The drawers were long so had not come fully out, but had closed again as the building swayed back the other way. We couldn't figure out where the camera had gone for some time!
I was lucky, I only had a couple of broken dishes. In fact, a bottle of wine had fallen off the top shelf in my pantry and landed in the open trash bin below. It never broke, but it also didn't make it back to the top shelf. We soon learned, everything needed to be placed on the floor.
Just around the corner from my flat, my son-in-law worked in this building.
This is what the inside looked like.
The quakes continued and by the end of January, I'd had enough. I consider myself fortunate that I moved to my daughter's to stay which was north of Christchurch city just a couple of weeks before the next big quake hit, killing 185 people. A large majority of those killed were in a building around the corner from the flat I'd just vacated. I hate to think how things would have been if my son and I had still been living there. That quake struck at 12:51pm. Either of us could have been anywhere but luckily not in the city at that time.
Today our beautiful city is no longer beautiful. It looks like the result of a war zone - deserted almost. The rebuilding has begun but I imagine it will be many years before this city is whole again.
Are the aftershocks still happening? They sure are, but not as many as there once were. To date they have recorded over 11,000. Yes you read that right. Will I ever go back there to live? Who really knows, I cannot say no because I said that once before about another location and ended up back there, but I can say, not if I can help it. It's still painful to see that lose, all very vivid in my mind. The photos can only tell the story, it's living the moment that creates the feeling of something I hope I never have to experience again, yet I know it will always be alive within me.