A confession: I didn’t feel the 1pm quake on June 13th. I had just gone into Lincoln University’s Commerce Building (I work for Commerce, but our offices are out back in Poplars - a wooden building that was originally a residence) to get some printing and had just walked out the back door. I typically don’t feel quakes when I’m outside for some reason.
So I got back to our building and my co-workers were huddled in our tea room/admin’s office. They all looked shocked and worried. This was the 1:01
5.3 5.7. My boss popped by my office to let me know he was off to Ilam School (our son’s both go there) and to offer me a lift. He did this after the Feb 22 quake as well.
The trip was like deja vu all over again. Same light traffic out near Lincoln which gradually built to traffic jams the closer to town we got. This time the kids were in the field and I could collect Lucas straight from there, sign him out (twice - well organized folks) and then get his stuff from the classroom. Just like February 22 he really didn’t feel much shaking because he was out in the field playing during his lunch.
So we headed off home on foot. Honestly, I can’t say we saw any new damage, though I’m pretty sure a moa could have walked across the street in front of us and I wouldn’t have noticed.
So we arrived home with time to hug Christine (that’s the woman who puts up with being married to me) and sort of look around the house to see if there was any damage. I say “with time” as a sort of literary flourishy foreshadowy thing, because if you’re reading this you’re probably aware there was a second, bigger aftershock. So we had time to hug, I changed out of my office clothing and we sort of hovered over twitter to see what was what.
Then 2:20 rolled around, and boy did it. The 6.3 quake was my biggest at home (Christine was here alone for the Feb 22 quake - I now have a full appreciation for why she was so freaked out that day) and I dove under Lucas’ desk, he dove under the dining room table and Chris went under her office desk (she has an office at the back of the house).
This was the first time that I honestly thought that our house would fail structurally. I honestly thought we’d get buried under the rubble. You could see the door frames flexing, the ceiling moving independently from the walls and you could fully appreciate the full, horribly power of this thing that was happening to us.
Looking across the room at my incredibly calm, brave little boy was an amazement to me: he got under the table, he held on tight as he’s been taught at school and he stayed there till the shaking ended.
I think all three of us are very very good at getting numb/calm during emergencies because, even though I was thinking “oh shit, the house is going to fall on us”, I was also calmly watching the Stolmen IKEA shelves we brought with us from Canada shake back and forth opposite to the quake’s shaking (I am writing them a letter later to commend them on the design).
At some point during this quake we lost power. And the water mostly exited the toilet bowl and tank. Oddly though, nothing fell and nothing broke (we lost the microwave in February and haven’t really got around to replacing it yet).
So, how are we? That’s the question isn’t it? If you live in Christchurch you’re, quite frankly, pretty fed up of answering this question, simply because you spend a lot of your time asking the same thing of yourself [oh, look, aftershock].
The stock answer is this: we’re ok. Scared but shaken. Our house is (mostly) fine. None of us got hurt, the liquefaction didn’t happen here, our power was back on by dinner on the 13th, we never lost water and it was a really pretty day out.
The real answer is a bit more complicated [oh look, helicopter]: we’re stressed, short tempered, tired, edgy, hungry (emotional eating, just another gift from my Mom), guilty and just plain fed up. All of us are not acting like ourselves, Metro (the cat) spends a lot of her time either hiding or watching us intently. Overall it sucks.
Work opens again tomorrow, Lucas’ school is being inspected this afternoon, Chris is off to Dunners and hopefully we can go back to the old, new normal soon.