Saturday, September 4, 2010

Earthquake in Christchurch

I often wondered what I would grab if I was involved in a disaster - my bag, my cell phone, my passport, my laptop? I found out this morning that it was none of those. I only thought of waking the children up and getting them out of danger.

When I awoke to the banging and shaking at 4:30am, my initial thought was the log burner had overheated and was rocking the house. Then I remembered we no longer have a log burner. By this time Kevin was up, dragging on clothes and calling me to get downstairs. I staggered out of bed and but couldn’t move. Every time I tried to take a step, the floor shifted at an alarming angle. It was terrifying and I realised we were in the middle of an earthquake.

The church alarm was going off next door and bottles, books and photos were falling from every surface. As the heaving subsided, we got the children out of bed and congregated in the lounge. I was quite shaken, literally and figuratively. Then the power died and we were left in the dark with only a couple of torches and a few tea-light candles.

Eventually we went back to bed after texting family in South Africa to let them know we were safe. Then my journalistic instincts kicked in. I got up again at 6 and went and sat in the car to listen to the radio news. By 7 I was showered and ready to go into the city. I knew it was only a matter of time before it was blocked off and wanted to get some photos. Chantelle came with me and we drove and walked around for an hour, shocked at the damage to buildings and roads.

Armed with dozens of pictures and loads of information from the radio, I then wrote a news report for one of the article sites I work for. It instantly made the first page of Google searches for “Christchurch earthquake” and received several hundred hits in the first few hours.

As we prepare for bed, the city is in a state of emergency and there are major issues with water and sewage. Aftershocks are still shaking us and tomorrow is supposed to bring gale force winds and rain. Kevin and I are both flying out of Christchurch on Monday for work – him to Rotorua and me to Auckland. As all the questions and uncertainty swirl around us, I’m reminded of these wonderful words from Lamentations 3:

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

In spite of the damage, loosely estimated at around $2 billion, there were no deaths and my family is safe. Our power is back on and God has been gracious to us in the middle of the turmoil. Friends and family around the world have been praying for us and I have a new appreciation of what really matters in life. God really can bring good out of any situation.

Watch this space.

1 comment:

  1. It does seem miraculous that no one was killed and for that we can be truly thankful. We were in an earthquake (which killed 12) years ago but we didn't have the aftershocks. I can't imagine how awful that must be and people's nerves must be truly shattered by now. It's a long time since I was in Christchurch (although Son#2 lived there a few years ago) but it saddens me to see all the beautiful old buildings damaged and having to be demolished. I suspect it's going to be a long time before things are back to normal.