The earth moves in mysterious ways. Often noisy, threatening and destructive ways.
No one in my part of the world will forget in a hurry where they were at 12.02am on Monday 14th November.
I was naked underneath a door frame.
Not an image I want to linger on for many reasons but most importantly because they broke all the rules for earthquake survival.
The earthquake lasted about 90 seconds. It seemed less. I nearly vomited ( they don’t tell you that in the adverts). The motion sickness stayed with me for two days. We held on as we surfed with the waves and then when it momentarily calmed, we grabbed some clothes and shoes and went to grab the Doodles ( who were fine throughout) ,got into the car and drove away from any potential house or tree collapse. Thankfully that was only a short distance down the drive as we are pretty much on open land.
Aftershocks followed and the car happily bounced around oblivious to the severity of the cause. The sky was white and no birds sang. It was eerie . Almost other worldly.
Elsewhere others were not so lucky.
I used my phone to get radio, as well as get instant texts out to family and friends across the world who would be hearing about the incident very quickly and we could therefore head off their concerns for us and also ensure our communications did not get tied up when we may need it most. The main news source was from callers to the radio graveyard shift and they knew no more than we did. We checked on neighbours and friends.
What we did know was that something of that power had to have done some significant damage. And it did. Our neighbouring town of Kaikoura – 130 kilometres from us- was suffering .
The following days were weird. News of damage to property came through quickly once the media was able to get amongst the action. Fatalities were small but it only takes one to change many lives forever.
But the mass weirdness was something that was felt by many and no one quite knew how to describe it or even to admit to it. It was something I had never felt before.
It was a clumsiness. A sadness. A blackness.
It was headaches, nausea and fear.
It was internal torment of being practical and realistic about what may or may not happen in future, coupled with irrational fear at every minor tremor that followed.
There have been over 4000 aftershocks in 7 days.
It calmed and disappeared in the days ahead and the experience became part of the learning and reflection of what to do if there is a next time.
We have been told to expect another major shake in the next 30 days. Some people will not be lucky. But most of us will again be fine with minimal damage.
Life is back to normal for most of us. Local businesses are desperate to demonstrate that, and it is our responsibility to help them continue trading. People are being kinder and the support for our neighbours who are suffering reinforces faith in the human spirit.
What have I learned? Apart from the blindingly obvious requirements of being able to look after yourself and your family for at least three days should you lose power, contact, food etc – something we ( and most of New Zealand) have been prepared for, for years ;
- Don’t sleep naked. Or if you must, keep some clothing nearby!
- Have a pair of shoes beside the bed.
- Don’t stand in door frames. That’s stupid ( as I now know) .
- Drop to the ground and make yourself as small as you can , Cover your head and go under a strong table. desk or bed and Hold on.
- Have your phone fully charged. Always.
- Use social media. It informs family and friends quickly and preserves your battery for what you may need it for. It also connects you with others nearby and gave me an immense feeling of support.
- Be realistic. This is nature at its powerful and destructive best. Respect that but don’t be fearful. Keep everything in context.
- Keep a supply of chocolate at hand ( this came from Civil Defence so who am I to argue! )
With love from the Shaky Isles,