Hard to believe that only hours after an earthquake registering 7.1 on the Richter scale hit our small country of New Zealand, Wellington Harbour looked like this!
Christchurch and neighbouring environs – only a 40 minute flight from our capital city – was the epicentre of a quake which hit at 4.30am yesterday morning. I was briefly woken from my slumber…and thought at the time that it seemed to last longer than usual. Then I promptly returned to my dreams and when I awoke several hours later, I’d forgotten all about it.
It was only when my neighbour commented on the phone that Christchurch had been hit very badly by an earthquake, did I remember the 4.30 blip in my sleep. You see, we’re so used to the odd shake that we’ve become complacent. Shakes and rumbles are common occurences for us New Zealanders.
A quake on the scale of yesterdays – inland and relatively shallow – hasn’t been experienced since 1931 in Napier. The whole of Napier was devastated, reduced to rubble. Parts of Christchurch look similar…
We’re all thinking of those we know in Christchurch, and those we don’t know. A friend (in her 80s) rang me to let me know she and her family are safe. She told of being shunted from one side of her bed to other, of the horrifically loud rattle that rent the air – a rattle that sounded like the whirly clacker things we used to take to the rugby – and the after-shocks they are still experiencing. She says that it has been the most terrifying experience of her life. The city is in shock, New Zealand is in shock.
Adding to the tragedy is the fact that so many of us are unprepared.
I’m mindful of the massive bottles of water I bought in December 1999 – for the new millenium – when we were told to prepare for disaster as the clocks ticked over. Mayhem was predicted. It never happened and my massive bottles are still in storage. A fat lot of good they’d be if the quake had struck Wellington. Ten year old water!
Inner-city Christchurch is without water and power. They’ve been told not to flush their toilets, and to limit phone calls on landlines and on the mobile network.
We have one torch and no spare batteries for it.
Tinned food? Actually the pantry doesn’t give me much comfort that we’d last for long, unless of course marinated figs and cooking chocolate have special nutrients. I went to the supermarket and stocked up on baked beans today!
The wake-up call which didn’t succeed at the time, certainly has now.