22 February 2011

The Earthquake in Christchurch

This is a view from the Port Hills overlooking Christchurch, New Zealand. It was taken in 2007, on our honeymoon.

It's difficult to imagine the devastation that today's 6.3 magnitude earthquake has caused to this quiet and pleasant South Island city.  This disaster is both thousands of miles away and very close to home.

I was given eyewitness account by my Mum earlier today in a tearful phone call. 

Mum emigrated to Christchurch fourteen years ago. I have spent many months there with her over the years, the last time was a week of our honeymoon - Andy's first visit. Seeing the city so badly damaged is difficult for me, I know it so well.

Today, Tuesday 22nd February, Mum was having lunch with my stepdad and her two sisters and brother (who were with them on holiday from the UK - some holiday)! They were in Riccarton Shopping Mall when the earthquake struck. Terrified, they got out of the shaking building. In the confusion that followed they headed for their car, parked under the mall. 

During the panic of everyone trying to leave the car park they suffered a massive aftershock. Mum said all she could think of was that she would never see me again or the boys and that she would die buried under concrete. She said they all thought they were going to die at that moment and some shouted 'we're going to die'. Can you imagine a member of your family shouting in fear like that? It's horrific.

They got out and Mum drove them home, avoiding the worst of the broken, raised, liquifying roads. Their house was still standing, but has not yet been repaired from the 4th September earthquake so they fear it may be further damaged and not safe. They are all now staying with my step-sister. There's not a lot of room, there's no power and no water but they are thankful to be alive.

At the time of writing 65 people have been reported killed with many more still missing, trapped under rubble. My heart goes out to them and their families. I was relieved to have a text from my Mum waiting on my phone when I woke up and I was also able to speak to her. Some people have not been so lucky.

Both my step-brother and step-brother-in-law fear for their jobs as both their places of work were destroyed.  Mum is worried that she had a full chest freezer, ready to feed their visitors, that would be thawing. This may sound trivial, but being pensioners they can not afford to replace that food. They daren't go anywhere as there is so much damage and petrol is only available for the emergency services.

I have spent a lot of time day on the phone passing on the news that Mum is safe. In between I have mostly been in tears.

In these dark early days there is confusion and many people will be suffering from shock. My Mum's sobs were evidence of that. Christchurch, the lovely city with the broken cathedral, has to mourn and then start down the road to recovery. It's going to take a lot of hard work and hardship before they are anywhere near back to normal.

Another view from the Port Hills, this time of the coastal suburbs that have today been described as 'unliveable'.

I feel helpless and I know I couldn't physically be any further away from my Mum and my family (some of whom are in their eighties), but my heart is there.





  1. Oh dear it's just awful :( Food can be bought and I am sure like the Aussies the Kiwis pull together lives can't be recovered. And yours have theirs and that is worth everything :)

  2. Oh the underground car park thing stopped me breathing. So glad they got out okay.

  3. Oh my goodness. I am so glad that they are ok. I cannot imagine how terrifying it must be in that situation. Sending you hugs and them prayers xx

  4. Some of the most beautiful or awe inspiring places on our planet are also in places where the earth's surface is the most unstable which is sad. Am sure living in such a beautiful place makes it worth it but New Zealand and Australia have been so hammered by the last few years by fire, floods and earthquake­s, praying for their families and love one’s who are victims of calamities.

  5. My thoughts are with you and your family in this very scary time.
    I have a good friend who is in Wellington, but her dad is in Christchurch. Thankfully they are all ok.
    Fingers crossed that the country is allowed to recover and mend after this disaster. x

  6. It souds so horrible. I heard about it on the radio. I hope you will let us know what happens to your mum.

  7. What a terrifying story. So glad your family are safe.

  8. Oh Sandy, I'm sorry, I had no idea that your Mum had been so affected by the earthquake. Big hugs to you and I hope that your family manage to get back on their feet over the coming weeks. x

  9. It's all just dreadful, I have to stop myself thinking about it as I can feel myself getting depressed and tense.
    Everyone we know, and their friends and family seem to be safe, they've lost houses and cars and jobs but no one has died.
    Most have evacuated and all are traumatised by the experience.It's safe to say their lives will never be the same.

  10. Sorry to hear this Sandy, I didn't realise your mum lived there and I am really pleased to read she and the rest of your family is safe. Xx


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