I moved house at last and that wasn't without it's trials, the place still isn't officially ours ~ the earthquake saw to that. We had just left the solicitors after signing off the paperwork for the property purchase when the quake hit. It seems all the paperwork and computer files were lost and we are now waiting for new papers to be drawn up and signed. At least we have a home to live in, many people haven't been so lucky.
We had left Latimer Square 10 minutes before the quake hit, we nearly called at Starbucks for a coffee but decided not to because the traffic is always busy around the city centre at that time of day so we headed away from the city centre towards home.
I didn't know what was happening when it first started, for a moment I thought the steering had gone as the car wouldn't do what I wanted it to, we were sliding all over the road and then I realized everyone else was doing exactly the same. I stopped the car and could feel the road undulating strongly beneath us, I could see brick walls falling down just up the road and when I looked at the lamp posts around us they were swaying like they really shouldn't be. I thought they were going to snap and come crashing down. It seemed to go on for quite a while. We just sat there in shock, people were running out onto the street for safety, vacating their homes and shops that were shaking violently. I knew it would have hit the city hard because the waves were coming from behind us, I remember saying to my hubby that it would be the Port Hills.
My next thought was my boys, one was at work and the other was in the city centre waiting to collect his car from a garage. I contacted them both immediately and was relieved they were safe but they were shaken up by it (my oldest Son was overseas on holiday when the Sept quake occurred so hadn't experienced the main quake). We headed home, the traffic was just terrible as you can imagine everyone was trying to get out of the city.
On the journey home I was wondering if the final chimney would have come down through the roof of the house - it was made unstable by the September quake. The other chimney had come down in September but for some reason this one was left standing ~ it was a high one too, about 6 feet and had twisted on the base. We got home and the chimney was still standing there on the roof. No damage to the house and everything inside was still in it's rightful place (we still hadn't unpacked everything at this point). The boys had just arrived home when there was a big aftershock that rattled the whole house. My Hubby got up on the roof and removed the chimney, I was frightened it would come crashing down on us.
We turned on the tv and could not believe what we were seeing, the city was in ruins. People were dead and missing. It felt as if it wasn't happening here in New Zealand, that we were viewing events in another far away country.
We were hit badly in the September quake, we had severe structural and internal damage to our home, lost a lot of our belongings (I know they are just things and don't really matter), we lost furniture that was smashed to pieces by the force. It has taken us nearly 6 months to get back on track, endless paperwork filled in for the insurance companies, numerous visits from structural engineers, the stress of it all, feeling unsafe even at the slightest tremor as the whole house would shake. I think moving out of that house and buying this one is what has kept my sanity intact.
Our new home is a one level farmhouse built of wood. It's on wooden piles instead of concrete (our old place was on a concrete slab and I'm convinced that's why the quakes felt so bad there). The ground we are on here is shingle and we are 140 mtrs above sea level, no floods or liquifaction ~ I feel safe here. This house has stood through both quakes, having only minor damage in the first one, I think the Farmer that built it over 70 years ago knew what he was doing!
Our village didn't seem to be affected, everything was open and normal, but that makes you feel guilty when you see what other people are having to put up with. There are entire housing developments in some of the suburbs that don't have power, water or sewerage facilities. My Husband keeps reminding me that we were without those facilities in September, we had no water for a week and no reliable power for 5 days but it still doesn't make you feel any better about it all. Many people have had to vacate their homes and many have left to start over in new places.
If I had come home to a scene of destruction then that would have been the final straw for me and I think we would have left here for good. We will stick it out and see what happens and I truly hope we have seen the last of the big quakes for along time.
For now I have things to keep me busy, I have a veg garden ready to plant up with Autumn/Winter veg and I aim get the dye pots out this week and concentrate on getting stock levels in my shop back to normal. I have a shipment of beautiful lace weight merino/silk yarn due to arrive any day now and I'm looking forward to working with it and creating some beautiful colourways. I will donate 50% of the sale price of lace weight skeins sold in March to the Red Cross 2011 Earthquake appeal.