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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blog - Nightmare on Revelation Drive (Feb 23)

What can I say? What I said in September would cover what happened to me on Tuesday. I was inside - although this time it wasn't 4.35 in the morning and it wasn't my place - felt like a truck slammed into the house and for ten seconds all hell broke loose. We didn't fall over, not from any effort of our own, but simply because the earthquake gods decided not to push us over. We were completely powerless and were thrown wherever they wanted us to go.

And then it really got bad. Things started falling, thankfully not on top of us. Tiles from the roof showered the patio and a pane of glass blew out as the kitchen rearranged itself. In the ten seconds that seemed to last an hour, books fell off shelves, bottles jars and glasses smashed on the floor, tvs crashed onto the floor and angels fell down and broke their legs.

There were a few moments of sheer terror. After the ground had settled down, the water heater had stopped showering water all over the basement (we managed to get the water turned off), the loose tiles had been knocked down, we took a moment to think. Cell phone coverage was sporadic, but I got texts from Jackie and Chris. But I didn't know how Josh was in the previously devastated Halswell School, and I didn't know what our house was like. Apart from losing a loved one, my greatest fear after the September 2010 earthquake was that we would not have a place to live in.

After hearing on the radio that my only route home was impassable, we pulled up our socks and determined to do nothing at all until...well, later. We wandered around the house, stunned at the carnage. From the balcony we could see billows of smoke drifting 9/11ish across the cityscape. We stood out in the street and made small talk with the neighbours. And we needed to pee really badly.

Nearly 36 hours later, I'm home, we have power and running water, no damage to the house, nothing broken.

And I'm a bit angry.

We were complacent after the September quake. Sure we stockpiled a bit of water, some food. For the first few weeks we anticipated a big aftershock, mostly because we were told to expect one. But it wasn't long until, even in the midst of 4000+ aftershocks, we decided that there wasn't really going to be a "big" aftershock. Probably because we didn't want to believe it.

We thought it probably couldn't get any worse. If we and the city survived a 7, surely a 6 would be a doddle. Nobody died. A few buildings got a bit damaged. Core services were back up and running within a week, so to speak. Life was back to normal. Even if there was a 6 coming, we just didn't consider the possibility it would/could be worse than September's 7.
More fool us.

It's worse. It's ten times worse. It's 75 times worse.

I'm in a bit of denial. I watch the TV 24/7 and can't believe...don't want to believe it's my city. Our city. The destruction is unbelievable. It's surreal and it's way too cliche to describe it as some dystopian nightmare. And to top it all off a guy who used to be a good friend of mine has become the poster boy for the despair family members holding vigil at the CTV building are feeling, and he's been splashed all over the TV all day. Despite our estrangement it simply breaks my heart.

And this less that 48 hours after the quake. Life was back to normal a week after September 4 (relatively speaking). It was good to say it was behind us and surely nothing in the future could shake our resolve (excuse the pun). I said many times, barring another earthquake as bad as the last one, willing it to not be thus, life could only get better.

But I get the feeling it will truly be a long, long time before life gets back to normal. Down town is not damaged, it's destroyed. More houses are unlivable and their inhabitants displaced. Businesses are ruined.

And people are dead.

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