Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Christchurch Earthquake

[As this is my blog, I am writing this for myself in years to come, not you for the here and now. It is unfinished and unedited]

A week ago on Tuesday 22nd February 2011 at 12.50 pm, I was getting ingredients out of our pantry to make my own pizza dough to take to our young married couples connect group that night. After activating the yeast I planned to jump on the closest bus and make my way into town for a job interview that afternoon. Realising I did not know the recipe off the top of my head, I went down to our bedroom to pick up my laptop to Google search it.

Without any warning I was thrown sideways by the moving ground and a great banging sound. I ended up on top of our bed and had dropped my laptop to the floor. Immediately our TV unit and dutchess landed exactly where I had been standing moments before hand.

In moments I decided to shelter in the corner of the room ontop of our bed rather than in the door way. A TV was now between me and the doorway and I thought if the house came down on top of me I would want to be as close to the outside as possible.

I sheltered my face from the windows and braced my self in the corner of the room and pushed my head up into a shelf that was bracketed into the wall. The room was twisting and pulling and I had pictures of the roof caving in and all of the things in storage in the attic falling onto my head. The windows sounded like they were going to explode, they rattles and banged and a number of times I was kicked from the wall onto the bed with the force of the movements.

I was scared and confused.

I suddenly realised that I was shouting "Jesus" frantically over and over again. This wasn't a curse or swear word, it was a plea for help. Once I realised I was praying I decided to focus on that and direct my prayers. "Jesus with Graeme, Jesus with me, help, lives". Broken sentences were my prayers of desperation.

I glanced outside and could see the neighbours house was still standing, that brought me comfort.

I looked up at the roof, it looked like it was twisting and bending, I was expecting it to snap. I kept picturing myself buried amongst timber and bricks, in that moment I told myself I would fight for my life.

After 20 seconds of a 6.8 magnitude earthquake centered only a few kilometers from our home, the shaking stopped as quickly as it had begun and was then promptly followed by another. After the second, I collected myself and my cellphone and bolted through the house and out the door. I didn't even pay attention to the rest of the house even though I had to jump over broken glass, push blocked doors open and climb over suitcases.

I made it out to the street where house and car alarms were piercing the air, water was filling the gutters from broken mains, cracks were in the road and a neighbours brick fence had come down.

Neighbours were hugging each other. A stranger asked if I was okay and all I could say in the moment of shock was "Holy Crap", he replied "I know."

I went to check on elderly people sheltering on their porch and as I called out, another big rumble came and I held onto the lamppost which looked ready to snap. Boulders fell from the hills that were behind us and left plumes of dust in the air.

I pulled out my cellphone and text Graeme to see if he was okay, he replied immediately, and then I text my mother who lives out of town that I was "ok and not to call" and then I put my phone away. From experience I knew that the phone lines would over load and Graeme was all I needed to hear from in that moment.

The next few hours are a blur - I sat in our driveway as the after shocks continued, I had no cell reception or power, and I felt extremely out of the loop and alone. I knew at the time that people were fighting for their lives and there was nothing I could do.

Graeme arrived home dusty, tired and exhausted. When I asked him how he was he looked and me and his eyes welled up. I found out he had pulled people from buildings, some concious, some appeared to be lifeless.

I cannot imagine what that does to a person - the deceased, their families and community, and the rescuers. I knew in that moment that it would take years to recover and it was so much bigger than I could comprehend.

I thanked God that my little family was okay - Graeme, myself and Mini-Moo. And I prayed that while we were okay, God would look after every other little family too.

[to be continued...]


  1. Oh my gosh, SO GLAD you're ok! I hadn't realised you were in Christchurch. Really good to read your account and hope everything is as well as can be over there. Thinking of you xo

  2. Wow Sophie! What a full on experience for you to go through... for everyone to go through. So glad you are safe. All my love. xoxo


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