Monday, September 6, 2010

Earthquake in Christchurch

The quake hit at 4:30am on Sept. 4th. We were jolted awake when the van started rocking violently.  We had insulation press-fit into our windows, so we couldn't easily peek out the window to figure out what was going on.  With our hearts pounding out of our chests, we both started yelling (to who or what, we're not sure).  I managed to pop out some insulation, while Scott bolted towards the cab to look out the front window.  Scott, who assumed it was punk-ass kids cow-tipping the van, was yelling in his tough-guy voice, ready to kick some ass in his underwear. I was pounding on the walls, convinced that we were somehow hooked up to a tow truck.  I was freaked when I looked out in the parking lot to see nothing.  No cars, no people, no tow truck, no wind.   The quake lasted long enough to solidly imprint the experience in our memory.  We didn't really figure out what was going on until we heard the alarms from the shops all around us.  At a magnitude of 7.1, the earthquake was the largest in NZ in 70 years.

After listening to the radio for an hour, we managed to get back to sleep around 5:30.  We woke up talking about what kind of damage might be sustained around the city.  I still laugh when I think about Scott's main concern, the guitar shops.  "What about all of the guitars that they hang by their headstocks swinging around and banging like wind chimes?"

It's been interesting listening to the media coverage of the quake.  As you would expect, everything is sensationalized.  At first, we thought it was a gross exaggeration to characterize the earthquake as a catastrophe.  After all, no one was killed, and there were only two serious injuries. However, over the past couple of days, we've seen pictures of destroyed buildings in downtown Christchurch, and while biking around the Port Hills and the small port town of Lyttleton, we were very surprised to see lots of collapsed brick chimneys and massive cracks through rock, brick, and concrete.

The aftershocks have been non-stop. We heard there have been over 70 of magnitude 5.0 or greater in the last 48 hours. The Auckland-based radio station talks about a city of half a million people who panic with every aftershock. That's funny. We saw a lot of fellow bikers on the road just hours after the main quake. They didn't seem to be in a state of panic. Neither did the joggers and walkers. Nor the shoppers at the market. Or the rock climbers without helmets!

The biggest issue so far seems to be damage to the water and sewer systems.  There are many people who don't have water, power, or sewer. Lucky for us, the van has the trifecta.


Unknown said...

So glad to hear ur both safe and sound!! Julie G.

Unknown said...

Great to hear that you made it through the earthquake. Bet you won't forget this event.

Keep up with the blog postings and pictures - we look forward to reading/viewing.

Happy adventuring,

Dave and Mary in Portland