From the quake zone

The radio reported  a large earthquake in Christchurch when I was about half an hour away from the city.

There was no mention of the airport, where I was headed. I carried on, seeing nothing unusual until I reached my destination just as people were being evacuated. I turned round and joined the long, slow procession of vehicles heading south, listening with growing concern to National Radio.

I stopped at the Caltex petrol station a few kilometres from the airport to buy water but the power was out and the staff member said they couldn’t sell anything.

Traffic lights were out but drivers were calm and courteous, moving slowly and giving way to others to allow vehicles to keep moving through the intersection.

The BP station near Rolleston was crowded. A woman ahead of me in the queue was shaking and fighting tears. A young man said he’d only got out of Halswell because he had a four wheel drive vehicle.

As I waited for a gap in the traffic to allow me back on the road a bus drove past in the opposite direction, it’s driver clasping a cell phone to his ear and apparently oblivious to the fire engine trying to pass him, siren blaring and lights flashing.

I heeded the request to keep off the phone until I got to Darfield, rang my farmer to report in. He’d been talking to someone on the eighth floor of the Forsyth Barr building in the centre of Christchurch as the quake struck, he heard loud screams then the phone disconnected.

It took several tries and a long wait on hold, to get through to Air New Zealand.

Flights are expected to resume this evening but the only seat they could guarantee me was early tomorrow – the last on the flight. I was going up to Wellington for a meeting but it’s not essential for me to be there. I chose to leave the seat for someone whose need might be more urgent.

I am now heading home, counting my blessings and thinking of the people on Christchurch who may not have homes to go to, the ones who are injured, the ones who’ve been killed.

If there’s a lucky time to have an earthquake it was in the early hours of the morning when the September one struck. Today Christchurch’s luck ran out.

8 Responses to From the quake zone

  1. Craig says:

    A terrible day for New Zealand, my thoughts are with family, including those we have not been able to get hold of yet

  2. Gary says:

    I’m pleased you’re ok, Ele. What an absolute disaster! We were in Dunedin about to head back home – then had a very long trip back to Oamaru as we tried to find out about family members in Christchurch. We’re lucky and they’re ok – our thoughts are with those who were not so lucky…

  3. gravedodger says:

    We dodged a bullet here in Akaroa, very significant quake and up wards of 10 significant aftershocks but no new damage as far as I know in our community
    We are fine if a little fragile and those of ours we can text are safe thanks be.
    Surreal to be only 25Kms by crow from the epicenter and to be almost untouched when Lyttleton and so much of CHCH is destroyed.
    Our emergency services and CD are on full alert but touch wood so far unemployed. Our PRT is on standby for deployment to the city
    I was so over earthquakes two days ago and dared to think we were settling down, this has left Mrs Gd and self feeling more than a little vulnerable.
    Hope you and yours are safe Ele,

  4. homepaddock says:

    Glad to hear you and yours are safe, GD.

    I had a very sombre drive home, listening to National Radio which gets full marks for its coverage.

  5. Terri Spencer says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with the people of New Zealand.

  6. […] New commenter Homepaddock was on his way to the airport when the Earthquake struck. I heeded the request to keep off the […]

  7. Richard says:

    Experienced the 4/9 quake down south. But this time at the St Albans home. Was in the study,upstairs, when it struck. Dived under the desk as the floor to ceiling bookshelf at he other side of the room crashed; it had remained upright on 4/9. So I knew this one was far more serious. No structural damage, but contents from cupboards shelves scattered with fridge taking a walk twice during the day. We were lucky.
    Went down to see an elderly lady two doors away who was shocked but unhurt. Stayed with her until relatives were contacted, sitting and watching grey “liquification” rising in her garden creeping under the patio door onto the carpet. It was at that moment I felt completely helpless.
    Later went to see a nephew a few street away. More scenes of liquification on the roads. Surreal but comforting sights where people had placed refuse bins over large holes in the roads; a vivid demonstration of the spirit of people.
    Power back on overnight, and can see the enormous devastation- its far greater than I could have imagined—

  8. homepaddock says:

    Thanks Terry. Friends in Christchurch say they appreciate moral support from all round the world.

    I’m so pleased you’re safe Richard.

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