CEISMIC

Two Years Ago Today

UC CEISMIC programme office staff remember where they were on 4 September 2010

4/09/2012

Programme Office Manager Chris Thomson:
When the 4 September 2010 earthquake struck I was, like most of Canterbury, fast asleep in bed.  The real force of the earthquake wasn't clear to me until, still dozy, I reached the living room and stumbled upon piles of books and a couple of broken pot plants.  Despite the items flung about the room our house seemed more or less okay, so my partner and I went about righting bookshelves and searching for torches, candles and matches - items that we'd not thought to keep together in a handy location.  Soon we received a text message from a friend whose housemates were away.  She had previously experienced significant earthquakes in Gisbourne, and was not enjoying being alone in a rattling house, so we decided to drive the few blocks over to collect her.  When we arrived, she was waiting on the roadside in emergency gear consisting of pajamas, ugg boots, blanket and laptop.  Back home, we realised our only working radio was the one in the car and, as it was a Saturday morning after a busy working week, the only breakfast we could offer our guest was biscuits and chocolate milk.  Looking back from our post-February 2011 world, we now seem like adult children - raiding the pantry at dawn, waiting for our Saturday morning cartoons to begin - entirely innocent of what was to come next in the life of our small city.

Programme Administrator Jennifer Middendorf:
Two years ago today I was glued to the television.  We're lucky enough to live in an area that had very little damage, and our electricity was restored by mid-morning, so (apart from regular dashes for the safety of the doorway during aftershocks) I spent the day in a weird disconnect between the scenes of destruction I was watching on the screen and the seeming normalcy outside my window, where the neighbour's children were playing in the sunshine like any other weekend.  My overwhelming feeling was one of disbelief: surely the images of damaged buildings and flooded streets on TV couldn't be real?  Surely this sort of thing doesn't happen in Christchurch?  Two years later that feeling of unreality still persists - even though I spend a lot of my working day looking at pictures of earthquake damage, it's always a shock to go into town, or to the eastern suburbs, and see that, yes, the earthquakes really did happen, and most of the city really is still living with the aftermath. 

Business Analyst Han Li:
Like everyone else in Christchurch two years ago today, I was abruptly awoken by the powerful 7.1 earthquake at 4.35 am Sunday morning. The night before, my flatmates had asked if I wanted to go into town to which I declined, so when the initial rumbling started, I simply thought it was them returning after a big night out. This thought changed when a picture frame smashed in my room and my flatmate knocked on my door checking everyone was all right. For some reason, I managed to get back to sleep, but was mildly awoken to every aftershock.
In the morning, unaware the extent of the earthquake, I found a note from my flatmates who had stayed up listening to the radio: Christchurch had been declared in a state of emergency. The whole day seemed surreal, it was a sunny clear day and our immediate area was unaffected as we made our way down to the local market for breakfast. The other thing I remember from that day was that the start of term 4 at the University was delayed so we had an extra long mid semester break. So as we sat at home that day, watching the news, it was hard to comprehend at the time what had happened to Christchurch city.