Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kia Kaha Christchurch

No bookish post today, instead here is one of the many stories of Christchurch's devastating earthquake

Christchurch’s students are leaving. One by one they’re abandoning belongings, getting into cars, and getting out of a decimated city. They’ve only just returned after the summer break, but many won’t come back. They’re heading to Dunedin, to Twizel, to Hastings, to Auckland, to anywhere the ground doesn’t shake.  They’re among the queues at Christchurch Airport, and they’re in the line for petrol at B.P Papanui.
I’ve spoken to one Canterbury University student who’s among the exodus. She doesn’t want to be named. This is her story:
Like many of my friends, I don’t know what my future in Christchurch will be. I have no idea of the scale of damage at uni because I left too quickly to find out.
I was horribly hung over on Tuesday the 22nd of February. Monday night and the start of Orientation Week was a big one. I contemplated skipping my 12.00 biology class but decided to tough it out.
We’ve become used to earthquake safety briefings at the beginning of each lesson (compulsory after September 4) and I was only half listening to this one.  The lecture droned on, as they’re wont to do on a sore head.
As the class finished I was thrown violently to the ground. I clambered under the desk, my head filled with the shrieks of class mates as our third storey theatre moved brutally from side to side. Apparently the ground shook for 60 seconds – for me it felt much quicker.
Dazed, we filed outside to the wail of sirens, and the crying and screaming of hundreds of people pouring out of surrounding buildings. Walking home I met two friends who had been caught outside on their way to class – they were distraught. I had no idea how large this quake was, so used are we to aftershocks.  As I walked home I gradually became aware of the scale. It was then I began to get scared - I didn’t know where my friends and flatmates were. As I continued to wander home people were milling on the streets, power poles were bent to the ground and there were cracks and rents in the road.
With trepidation I entered my flat to face the damage; there was glass everywhere, mirrors off the wall, photo frames smashed on the floor. My flat mates began to arrive home. Two had been trying to find a park at Riccarton Mall when the quake hit – they thought they were goners. Another friend was half naked in a changing room. When it was over the changing room no longer existed.
As we sat in the lounge exchanging stories another aftershock hit, finishing off the last bits of crockery we’d managed to salvage, throwing us into darkness and leaving us utterly terrified. All of us have now left the city. We don’t know when, or if we’ll be back.
I’m lucky that my friends are ok. But for so many who aren’t, the thoughts of Christchurch’s students go out to you. This is our city too; the CBD was our play-ground, we were among Hagley Park’s runners, we made day trips to Lyttleton and we frequented the local pubs. We’ve left because we’re traumatised and we want the comfort of our families, but our hearts are still in our borrowed home.  Kia Kaha Christchurch.

1 comment:

  1. Great post - and so proud to be a Kiwi when the whole country is pulling together right now. It's amazing to see support flow into Christchurch from across the globe - and shows that although Christchurch is a small city it's also a beautiful city and one many people have very fond memories of.
    My mum and dad were some of the lucky ones - but those couple of hours of not knowing....well words can't describe how that felt. They too have now left and are assessing what to do from now. My dad's friend was killed - the "nicest man" apparently, and my mum had to walk past crumbling, burning buildings to get home and find dad, hearing so much screaming and running through so much dust is something she says she just can't forget. Who knows where they'll go to now....sadly though this could happen again in many other places around New Zealand. And so the question is asked - where are we safe?
    Like you, my heart goes out to Chritchurch - it's hurting right now, and we are all hurting with it.
    Christchurch - you'll always have a special place in my heart.
    Nothing can shake that away xxx