February 24, 2011 littlelaughingloony

Quite possibly the most terrifying day of my life. Six days into the hall, two days into lectures, and now back home, with nothing to do but sit, wait and pray for 3 weeks. Never would I have believed anyone if they said that one week after moving to my new life in Christchurch would I be returning home upset, emotional, devestated, and most of all, scared.

It was just another day of lectures..breakfast at 8am, across the road to Uni and into a lecture. An hour later, into another lecture.  The cafe next to the university bookshop looked appetising following two hour long lectures, especially piled with hot food on a jeans-and-puffer-jackets kind of freezing day. Waiting at the front counter, looking back now was a countdown. The shaking started, and it took me about three seconds to actually realise what was going on. It was only Emma’s grip and shouts of ‘GET UNDER THE TABLE’ that made it click we were in an earthquake. 8-10 seconds later, lights swinging, tables and chairs moving, and windows shaking, it stopped. I couldn’t help but notice the cracked glass panel, and food that had been thrown everywhere. Nor will I forget the face of despair on the guy working behind the counter, as if to just say; ‘here we go again.’

Walking outside in a panic, alarms were going, people were being evacuated, and I tried to get through to my parents. It’s the first instinct – tell your parents you are ok. Just to find out that six cellphone networks were down. Never has ‘call failed’ made me so terrified before. So we walked back to my hall. Just at the entrance, the first after shock came. Never have I been so glad to have you with me Emma, someone by my side that was just as clueless to these things as me, that I could just grip to for comfort. Three hours of waiting followed. Waiting to go back inside, and see what kind of havoc had been caused in our rooms. Two hours of those three was trying still to get through to my parents. What scared me most was the fact it was on the news by now – and all I wanted to tell them was that I was ok. But not before the second big after shock hit. I was walking down the road with three others at the time, and all I saw was a line of cars down the road, shaking as if they were rattles in a babies hand, and to hear a voice screaming ‘GET OFF THE PATHWAY!’ at us. Looking up, I realised why. Never have power lines looked so unsteady, by this point I was on the verge of tears. Every step was stepping into the unknown of when the next after shock would come. And the next. And the next, and the next.

Finally, I got back up to my room. Terrified to be on the third floor during such chaos, I opened the door and saw my jewellery and perfume all over the floor, as well as all my lotions and potions thrown across the bathroom floor. Followed by the most pleasent; my hairdryer in the toilet. At this point I lost it. To have my only possessions in my new home thrown everywhere was the final straw. I packed the essentials hurriedly into one bag – not knowing when I would see my things again, prepared to go anywhere out of Christchurch. By this point 80% of the people in R&R had left. Left the hall, left their things, left Christchurch. And I wanted nothing more than to get out of there. After stressful negotiations I managed to sort a way to get home. But not until the next day. One night of after shocks, packing, worry, stress, emotion, how I managed to get even a few hours sleep I’ll never know…only to be awoken at 5:30 by yet another big after shock and alarms going off. I had to get out of there.

A five hour drive, three hour ferry crossing, waiting at the airport, and an hour flight home; I was finally safe, on solid ground. Never have I been more thankful that I had somewhere safe to go, and never have I felt so scared for not only myself, but so many others.

I can appreciate now that you can never even begin to comprehend what it is like until you have been in the situation of a natural disaster. I had never experienced an earthquake before, and although now I’ll certainley have a memorable first week at University, I would never, ever on my death bed wish this had occured. I have cried more in the past two days than I have in the last year. I still feel the shakes, even on solid ground. I’m emotionally and physically exhausted – yet I can’t sleep. Never in my life have I felt so emotional about something, especially as even after only one week, I feel like Christchurch is my second home. I have never been so grateful that I have amazing people around me, and that I am lucky enough to have a home and a safe place to sleep. My thoughts are with every single person still in Christchurch, and I can’t begin to thank enough the dozens of people that kept me as calm as possible, and that helped me get back home.

Although everything is still uncertain – life goes on. Cities have come back from this, Christchurch will be no exception. Although the city will never again be the same as it was, it will come back stronger, better, and a place I will be even more proud to call my second home ❤

A picture of my room following;


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