Monday, September 6, 2010
Growing up in Wellington, right on top of some serious tectonic action, you get pretty used to earthquakes and to living with the knowledge that "the Big One" is coming. But I've never felt anything bigger than an "ooh, there's an earthquake" shake, so what happens? A Big One goes and hits 400 miles away in Christchurch early on Saturday morning. My head is struggling a bit with the dissonance - this was supposed to happen here in Wellington because we are all expecting it and live in these draughty wooden houses because it's safer, but no, it happened in Christchurch where they still have lots of brick buildings because they don't get earthquakes! This idea is so strong in my head that when radio voices talking of massive earthquake destruction filtered into my waking consciousness on Saturday morning, my first thought was - surely we can't have had a massive earthquake, I didn't feel anything and nothing is damaged?! Being the modern world, the man leapt out of bed to get the iPad, and when I saw the pictures I just burst into tears.
Incredibly, miraculously, thankfully no one was killed. I know earthquakes and other disasters are happening all over the world all the time, causing far more destruction, death and loss of homes and livelihoods than this one. But when it's a place you know well, where your friends and family live, it is shocking and heartbreaking in a whole different way. There is something particularly sad about loosing so many of the heritage buildings - both the beautiful and the ordinary - that give a city it's character.
I'm sure everyone in New Zealand is going to hear plenty in the coming weeks about the importance of having emergency plans and supplies - but I'm going to say it any way. Do take a minute to think how you would cope without power or water or sewage or the ability to get to the shops. In this instance some services in some areas were back on within hours, but don't count on it!
My children are particularly interested in how we would cope without sewerage, especially the 9 year old who's been reading about Elizabethans and suggests we stick our bottoms out the windows - all I can say is I'm glad we have a garden! I do not envy the rubbish collectors in Christchurch this week, I wonder if they'll have special "night soil" collection?
Kia kaha people of Christchurch in the coming days and weeks and months and years.