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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blog: Earthquake fatigue (Vicki Anderson)

Earthquake fatigue

Last updated 14:33 20/04/2011
On the night of February 22, like many people in Christchurch, I couldn't sleep.

I stayed up all night and wrote this. In this story I asked for New Zealand to ''have our backs''.

Reading it now I realise I used that phrase several times.

It wasn't a conscious decision to use those particular words. I was sitting in the dark, writing on my phone, feeling scared and alone. I wrote to try to make some kind of sense of the devastation I had seen and the hopelessness I felt and to connect in some way with someone, somewhere.

Now, nearly two months later, I find myself doing the same thing. It doesn't feel like two months have passed at all. I don't remember a single thing about March.

I also haven't remembered my manners: New Zealanders, thank you for having our backs.

The kindnesses I have seen and the stories I have heard of the kindness of strangers, and my own experiences of people's ability to be kind, fill me with utter joy and restore my faith in humanity. I know I am not alone.

A colleague took off up north for a break. She said she couldn't believe it when she was in a tiny rural town and she saw an old man standing outside a dairy collecting for Christchurch.

She didn't cry when she was nearly killed in City Mall or when she saw others die there. It was when she saw an elderly man in threadbare clothes standing outside a dairy holding a bucket doing his bit for Christchurch that she cried until she couldn't stop.

''You hear people talking about what they're doing but it's not until you see it for yourself that you realise how much they're giving, it's incredible,'' she said.

Another friend fled with her children to Nelson.

Outside The Warehouse a stranger stopped her and chatted. She said she was from Christchurch. She went in and purchased essential items for her children and herself - warm clothes, toiletries and so on.

The man, she said, hung around her and she was a bit worried that he was a bit odd.

She took the items up to the till, putting back a blanket she couldn't afford. Her youngest boy wanted a toy fire engine and she had to say ''no'' to him for the same reason.

At the till the man leaned over and said he would pay for her items. He then placed the blanket and fire engine onto her pile of essentials. She burst into tears.

Staff at The Warehouse gave her a hug and brought her a cup of tea while the manager told her children to each go and pick some toys and books to take with them. They also gave her petrol vouchers.

I don't blame her for crying. I cried when she told me this story.

''I'd been holding it together for a week but it's the kindess of strangers that gets you the most,'' she said.

For myself, standing in my new home and hearing my new landlord say in broken English: ''You are not tenant, we in earthquake together, you are sister,'' made me cry.

I stood in the lounge with my new sister and a workmate and we all hugged and cried together.

From the children who have made cards and Kiwis who struggle to make ends meet who have donated a whole day's pay to the relief fund, to people who opened their hearts and their homes to offer Cantabrians somewhere to bolt to, Kiwis around the world have done what they can to help and the people of Christchurch truly appreciate it.

And the fundraisers and bucket rattlers! I started to write a story about it and quickly realised I could fill an entire newspaper just with a list of events held in New Zealand alone, let alone around the world.

It is truly humbling.

What you are doing is helping our city on many levels from practical assistance through your financial donations, through to your thoughtful gestures and kind words. Everything helps immensely, no matter how small you think it might be.

New Zealanders are really something else. Cut through the crap and we really do all give a damn about each other. We might be a small country but we're big where it counts.

I can't think of anywhere else in the world where people would do what New Zealanders have done for Cantabrians.

Following Japan's horrific double whammy of a huge earthquake and tsunami, a world-renowned newspaper contacted me asking me to write about ''earthquake envy''.

Surely, they said, Christchurch must be upset that the world's attention had been taken from their plight and was now focussed on Japan?

I don't think they fully believed my answer - that the people of Christchurch felt nothing but empathy and sympathy for the people in Japan and would like to help in any way we could.

That very morning, walking my daughter to school, I saw a little girl of about seven or eight, standing outside the gate of her Christchurch school, selling muffins she had made herself, to raise money for the people of Japan.

Someone from outside of Christchurch said something curious to me this week. He described the rest of New Zealand as having ''earthquake fatigue''.

''We're all a bit over it,'' he said.

Another woman, also from outside of Christchurch, said: ''We bought a Dominion Post and that had normal news and then we bought a copy of The Press and there were eight pages about the earthquake. Don't you realise the rest of the country has moved on?''

While to some these comments might seem harsh, some might say they're understandable.

Haven't we all been in this situation? Particularly those who work in the media. You hear a story on the news and it's horrifying but after the initial trauma has passed, in time, news coverage moves on to covering another disaster somewhere else or the next Hollywood scandal.

It's strange to be on the other end of this situation. To actually be in the place that everyone else has moved on from.

Christchurch is suffering from a different kind of ''earthquake fatigue''.

We're just sick and tired of bloody earthquakes and their confidence-destroying buddies, aftershocks.

People here are exhausted and stressed and simply trying to function is a full-time job for many. Running on adrenalin for two months is not healthy for anyone, couple that with a feeling of despair as to whether there's any coherent plan or future for the city you live in and the result is tension.

Lately I find myself just sitting and staring into space. I catch myself doing it a lot. I'm sitting still but my mind is racing. I'm always aware of my surroundings. Will this fear ever leave me?

Two months on from February 22, I'm still sleeping in my clothes with the emergency bag and my shoes handy. In my handbag I have two emergency blankets I bought from Kathmandu and a first aid kit just in case I need to help someone, sometime. I don't want to be helpless if the situation arises again.

My younger children are sleeping in their own beds again but my eldest daughter, 11, prefers to be as close as possible to me. She won't sleep without her bedroom light, the kitchen light and toilet light on. She wakes me up when she goes to the toilet in the middle of the night. ''I don't want to be alone in case something happens,'' she says.

When she has a shower she likes me to be outside the door talking to her ''in case something happens''.

When she leaves for her new school every morning she professes her love for me like a soldier going off to war.

''It might be the very last time I see you,'' she says.

I'm following all the advice I've received on how to deal with her anxiety but when I see her tiny pale face looking up at me, full of fear, I just want to bawl my eyes out.

Keeping that inside and putting on a brave face every day isn't easy.

For many people in Christchurch, Saturday night's 5.3 aftershock, took them straight back to the events of February 22.

The added damage this aftershock caused to already devastated homes, the flooding and the return of the dreaded liquefaction is clear to see, but the damage to our collective psyche is not yet it is the deepest crack of all.

My friend Tim, who has started an earthquake journal on Facebook for people to write their experiences in, said to me yesterday that to him: ''It feels like the city is being attacked by a poltergeist''.

Yet through it all, I see tremendous positivity and courage in the people around me.

Last Friday I asked a friend what he had planned for the weekend. ''Surviving,'' he replied.

We are surviving thanks to you, New Zealand - it's nice to know you have our backs.

We're all in this together and we all have earthquake fatigue.

Surviving this disaster isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. It would be nice to see your smiling faces at the finish line, New Zealand.


Angela   #1   03:35 pm Apr 20 2011
Those of us from ChCh living overseas have had a very intense experience of grief and anxiety too.We don't know whether to come home or wait a while. The supermarket checkout lady noticed I was a "kiwi" and asked where from,when I told her she leaned over and gave me a cuddle.....the tears came for me then.
murray   #2   03:52 pm Apr 20 2011
There would be a lot less stress if the Insurance companies would proceed with the claims. They are as slow as. Thanks for nothing State
Debz   #3   04:27 pm Apr 20 2011

I suppose it's understandable that those living outside Christchurch are suffering with 'earthquake fatigue'. It must be hard to understand the constant fear we live with each day. Those continuing aftershocks (and some of them quite big) make life very difficult to return to normal. Especially so if you live in the east side of the city where the roads and houses are badly damaged and your community has disappeared. Instead of feeling annoyed, those living outside Christchurch should be so thankful it wasn't them. Remember too, NZ is just one big faultline.
Kate`   #4   04:35 pm Apr 20 2011

Thanks Vicki, excellent article, I balled through it. Its hard to let it out when you have to keep boxing on. But you summed up how we feel in CHCH extremely well.
carol   #5   04:43 pm Apr 20 2011

I grew up in South New Brighton, went to school at Avonside Girls High School and did my nursing training at Burwood Hospital, Christchurch Hospital and Sunnyside (now Hillmorton) Hospital. Attended church at Christchurch Cathedral and the Basilica in Barbadoes Street. All i seem to be doing is crying and remembering christchurch the way it was before 22-2-11. I now live in Dunedin but grieve for the city i grew up in.
Lisa   #6   05:16 pm Apr 20 2011

We too are overseas and have experienced very intense feelings of grief for our city, family and friends. People have been supportive but it is an isolating experience, without people around us who understand these feelings for our home. Although away we call Christchurch home and have always planned to return, even more so now. We may not be there experiencing the everyday reality, but we are there for the daily phone calls and skypes, witnessing the exhaustion and fatigue, the ups and downs. We cannot focus on work, the Press is our homepage, with hourly checks for news. Our children are also stressed, hearing the skpe calls, taking to their friends on facebook, watching the heartbreaking images. We are there to celebrate when family members have the confidence to sleep back in their bedrooms, or to mow the lawn for the first time. We are there to listen, support, tell everyone what a great job they are doing, we don't say anything when our family and friends tell us we don't understand and how easy we have it. Yes this is a marathon, and i think that we haven't reached the runners 'wall' yet, but those of us away, not because we have abandoned our beloved city, but because we are learning new skills, gaining valuable experience, trying to make ends meet, we are here, not just at the finishing line, but alongside you, using those skills and resources that we have worked on whilst away to support you and will bring these back to help rebuild our city, Christchurch, our home town.
Allan   #7   05:35 pm Apr 20 2011

Those from outside the region are "over it" (the earthquake news)? Do they think that we are enjoying the attention a little too much, as well? Believe me (and all the rest of us here, in ChCh and surrounds), we are well and truly over it as well but, for some strange reason, "It" isn't over us just yet! We would love to have something else to talk about and lives that were just as they had always been but, for now, that isn't the way life is around here anymore.
Thanks for another very fine piece of writing from the heart Vicki.
Ariana   #8   06:25 pm Apr 20 2011

Kia ora Vicki, great article. I am back in ChCh after a two week trip to Europe, where I attended a conference at the Sami Parliament in Karasjok, Norway. While there, some journalists interviewed us as they wanted to do a story focussing on the aftermath of the earthquake. They were saying on a world stage it does become "old news" quickly. Once I started talking about the people, buildings and landmarks we have lost I couldn't help but break down. I was talking about Rapanui (Shag Rock) which has been reduced to a stump, and how the early Maori had carried that name from ancient Polynesia. It is gutting to think of the changes to our cultural landscape. It is a comfort that people around Aotearoa and the world are still thinking of us now and in the difficult times we have ahead.
Ray Sanderson   #9   06:33 pm Apr 20 2011
What a great article. My wife and I are from Toowoomba in Queensland and we spent most of last October holidaying on the South Island, our first visit to NZ and we loved it. The people were/are great and the scenery just too beautiful. We experienced two aftershocks while in CHch but only small ones, scary enough. We can't imagine what it was like on 22 Feb. When I saw the first reports coming in on my computer at work, I was shocked and had to cry (not a good look for a bloke!)We will be back next year to do the North Island but will also visit Chch again - I'm sure we will both cry when we walk around the city.
nic   #10   06:44 pm Apr 20 2011

What a well written article, it made me cry too. I keep thinking I should be managing better but I am not, it has had a huge impact on everything. The kindness of others has been astounding.

Carolyn   #11   06:55 pm Apr 20 2011
As an ex-Timaruvian living in Queensland, and with 2 daughters at university in Ch-Ch, I'm over it too! I am over worrying about my family and friends. I am over the fact that so many of you can't sleep at night. I'm over the fact that the day to day costs of simply living are so very taxing. Our town had it's second major flood in a year yesterday. (there have been minor floods as well). We were stranded out of town for a couple of days, while our three teens were stuck at home with our 2 year old. Our town (Roma) is on the news in NZ, while your city is on the news over here! I don't understand what is going on in this world, but I'll tell you something. I raised some money for Ch-Ch through selling kids clothing. And today, someone in Ch-Ch gave me some money to get us through. What goes around comes around. And I am so proud to be a part of a country that gives its all to help each other, no matter where in the world we live. Okay, the tears have stopped now, I can face my kids again! LOL Thanks for your articles. They are so well written, and I wish you all the best in rebuilding your life.
Ben   #12   07:23 pm Apr 20 2011
Nice article.Is amazing how talking with others helps deal with the constant stress caused by the ongoing aftershocks and the destruction & death so far.
Waltraud   #13   07:24 pm Apr 20 2011
bloody hell you've done, made me cry !! I try to hold it together but now and then I am losing it..but, it feels good. its not selfpity, not o poor me..its the wath we are, bruised and battered, knowing they're people much worst off then I thats what gets me and also the bit that people who are better off show compassion and readily offer a hug. Kia Kaha !!
Linda (Mt Maunganui)   #14   07:34 pm Apr 20 2011
Thanks for a beautifully written piece Vicki. I've posted a link on Facebook so others will know too. We're safely in the comparitively balmy north, but we haven't forgotten you. Several families have just spent '10 Days in Tauranga' as guests of our city and your stories were retold in our media. We feel for you and are doing what we can but can only imagine how difficult day to day life must be. Every time we shower, use a bathroom, drive to a job that still exists on roads without broken seal, nip into a fully stocked supermarket or go shopping on our lunch breaks, we think of you. You are not on some distant shore, speaking a different language. You are kiwis, just like us. Stay strong. You are not alone.
Angela   #15   08:30 pm Apr 20 2011
I love this article, it's fantastic and real. One thing I find hard is friends outside of CHCH saying how things must be back to 'normal' now and 'are you still getting those aftershocks'. I guess for those who have not experienced it they have no idea so it's not their fault. But normal is something I wish I knew what it was. I have no idea what that is anymore and I guess we are all functioning on a new kind of 'normal'. I find myself second guessing every decision and not going far from school/preschool 'incase' something happens and I want to get to my children. It takes three times as long to get anywhere and the roads all have their own speed bumps in them now, if not mini ditches. Going to the mall you look where you are, where there would be things to fall on you and where all the exits are. Nothing is simple anymore and it's hard to relax. Life will never be the same again and things will never be normal again. We just have to support each other and live through each day and be thankful we are alive.
Paddy McBride   #16   08:37 pm Apr 20 2011
Not all of us in the rest of the country are "over it". Here in Nelson we all have strong connections to ChCh through family members or having lived there at some point in our lives. We still have your backs and will continue to do so for as long as you need us.
For those who do need a helping hand with a difference, practitioners from the NZ Register of Acupuncturists are continuing to offer free treatment at three different venues in ChCh. Linwood, New Brighton and Riccarton. For more detail go to
Jenny   #17   08:48 pm Apr 20 2011
Vicky and awesome article and it sums up what so many of us are feeling. I got leaky eye syndrome again while reading this. However we will stay together and rebuild Christchurch - Lyttleton and surrounding areas. Thank you New Zealand for having our backs you have been so so generous.
Debbie   #18   08:53 pm Apr 20 2011
You say 'Running on adrenalin for two months is not healthy for anyone, couple that with a feeling of despair as to whether there's any coherent plan or future for the city you live in and the result is tension'. We appreciate the pain and suffering that everyone is going through since Feb 22nd..... but we have been going through it since Sept 4th and are a demolish and rebuild from sinking into the ground with liquifaction you wouldn't believe...we are running on 8 months waiting and it is just about doing our heads in. Its a huge waiting game, but to be honest, we are extremely grateful we are alive and well to be able to 'moan and groan' and hopefully one day tell the grandkids all about it!!! So lets be patient, and let the ones who need the most help get it...
Wal   #19   09:01 pm Apr 20 2011
Thank you for yet another great article Vicki. I'd like to acknowledge another act of kindness.
On the first weekend after the quake we went to Oamaru for a family gathering. On Saturday morning I went to Farmers to replace my makeup, which was my bag that I'd left behind in my office in the CBD. The assistant on the cosmetic counter did her best to help, but I couldn't for the life of me remember what brands or colours I used or decide what I wanted. When I apologised for being so vague and indecisive, and explained why my brain was so addled, she immediately whisked me around to her colleague Sandra, and explained what had happened. They then sat me down on and Sandra gave me a full makeup. She was so tender and caring as she gently stroked on the skin products and did my makeup that I was in tears by the end of it. I dabbed them away very carefully!
So thank you again Sandra for your wonderful kindness and big cuddle. And if anybody is in Oamaru and needs to buy makeup, please go and see Sandra and her team in Farmers.
Lavina   #20   09:35 pm Apr 20 2011
I wish getting away from the fear and stress of the life we are now stuck with in Christchurch was as easy as buying a different newspaper! So very thankful though for the kindness of wonderful strangers such as the ones in your story. A wonderful read that also brought tears to my eyes.

maggie   #21   09:38 pm Apr 20 2011
I wasn't a fan of the "earthquake service" article but this is excellent Vicki, well done.
maggie   #22   09:38 pm Apr 20 2011
I wasn't a fan of the "earthquake service" article but this is excellent Vicki, well done.
Nikki   #23   10:24 pm Apr 20 2011
Vicki, what a great article. After the 22nd of February I took my two children south as I figured with no electricity it was best to get them away for the short term. I was humbled by the generosity of people in Alexandra which is where we stayed. An anonymous person had left money in an envelope to help with the 'healing break' we were having. Unbelievable. It wasn't just people being generous with gifts, it was the ear they would lend to listen to how we were, what it was like, being able to talk of our experience all part of the healing process. People of NZ thank you so much for all the support of Cantabrians and those living in Canterbury. I am sure when people say they are over it, they don't mean over helping or over listening, I think a lot of people would just like to see Chch back to some sort of normality like we all would.
marg   #24   10:30 pm Apr 20 2011
Great article Vicki, I cried all the way through it. Want to say so much but can't. Afraid that if I do, I may not stop - and hey, there is a 400 word limit on this blog. All I know is this - that I have not really cried since the 22 Feb - because I might not stop. All I know is that I am busy getting along every day as best as I can, for me and my family, but in reality, at 3.00am? It's not good. I have moved my son to another bedroom because he is terrified the boulders are going to come roaring down the hill and into his room. I don't tell him the truth - that if that happens, being in one bedroom versus another is not going to matter. But he is sleeping peacefully for the first time in two months. My partner needs to travel out of town soon - have you any idea how stressed I am at that prospect?
Coping? I don't think so. Not really. But we must eh? We have to look after each other and be kind and be supportive and be encouraging. Every day is a victory in it's own way. And damn I am fatigued.
Another Mum   #25   10:31 pm Apr 20 2011
Thank you Vicki, even if you did make me cry. My children are coping well, but I still see them tense up at a rumble, and know that I do likewise. That instant alertness. The adreneline rush. It's almost easier if it's a small aftershock that gently shakes without warning. We're about to have a holiday abroad, booked on Christmas Eve. I wouldn't book it now, but I'm glad we're going. I wonder how long it will take us not to react to a rumble? but we'll be back for the rest of the marathon. See you at the finish line, smiling, and perhaps shedding some more tears? :)
Lesley   #26   12:03 am Apr 21 2011
Definitely well written, you have explained exactly what I have been feeling, I too cried my way through this and it is not when I see the piles of rubble of what was there prior that I seem to be able to let myself have a much needed cry, it is when I see and hear and think of all of the things people have and are doing for us that tears start flowing. Trying to keep brave face for the sake of others around me is tiring! Thank you to everyone who had helped Christchurch in any way shape or form, we really do appreciate it.
Kam   #27   12:25 am Apr 21 2011
Great article Vicki!
It has been a great and challenging times for us Cantabrians. Looking ahead - i am not even sure where we are going - but your article is certainly one of those hopeful positive lights that we all need.
Christchurch resident.
Christine   #28   12:38 am Apr 21 2011
Thanks for the article, really touched me *types with tears in eyes* Christchurch
LS   #29   01:29 am Apr 21 2011
Kia Ora from Horsham, West Sussex UK. My husband and I were in Christchurch on 22 February 2011 and experienced the full impact of the earthquake. Everyone was so kind to us; the efficiency of the Civil Defence and volunteers was amazing.
We are the lucky ones.
We frequently look at The Press website as there is little coverage now in the UK. The regular emails from our hotel update us about the restricted access and also told us about last Saturday’s large aftershock.
Our thoughts are always with all the residents of Christchurch who continue to live there and endure endless aftershocks, which are still happening daily. We can only hope you all have the strength to endure the psychological effects of this continual fear.
You are not forgotten.
Deborah Findlay,Dubai,UAE   #30   01:44 am Apr 21 2011
thank you for such great writing,it made me cry again,something I do most days.I was there for September....this time one son was there and I flew home from Dubai.It was something that I had to do for me and family.Many asked why go back....Why? because its my home .I went for 3wks and stayed almost 6.I shed many tears ,my city ,my fellow Cantabrians.We lay awake at night with any sound the house made ,had the bedroom door open ,shoes and clothes ready incase.I had some good aftershocks including the one last Saturday and cried with fear and sadness for what people went through on Feb 22nd.Keep strong ,stay safe and hold tight to those we love.
Keep the Faith   #31   04:38 am Apr 21 2011
Hi Vicki Great article! I was one of several who were hurt by an article you wrote on the eve of the Rememberance Day. It seemed cynical and nasty and for me, it hurt a lot. This article balances that, showing compassion, understanding and balance. Thank you.
Jane M   #32   07:38 am Apr 21 2011
Like. :-) Keep your chin up and thank you for explaining the way so many people in Christchurch feel.
Maggi   #33   07:40 am Apr 21 2011
Thank you Vicki for reflecting openly how so many of us are feeling as we try to live in the mess that is Christchurch these days. There is no normal for many of us now....with a good portion of our city city munted the 'new normal' is hard work! Living in the city centre (and I do) or eastern suburbs means travelling considerable distances into the out-lying suburbs to do your basic shopping or even to get a cup of coffee. I don't go until the need becomes urgent 'cos I can't be bothered with the traffic gridlock and extra time involved. Maybe the rest of NZ is over it......try living in it.....sadly only those of us living it really understand how tough it really is. Our hardship is physical, emotional and financial - that's a tough pill to swallow on a repeat dose!! And yes, I cried too! Managing, coping...whatever you call it is tough work. We are truely grateful for the support we have from the rest of NZ & overseas. Thank you all!
Ken Mayer   #34   07:52 am Apr 21 2011
I met my wife in Christchurch, we had 4 of our five children born at Burwood Hospital and spent our first 10 years of marriage in the Garden City. We came to Canada for our children to meet their great grandparents-it was going to be for 5 years max, back in 1996! We have a house in Avonside, right close to the recent flood threat. We had been planning to return soon. It is difficult to put into words our grief for the city, our family and friends, one we lost in the CTV building, our house and for the trauma that continues for all the residents still battling on. I fell in love with the people and city as a backpacker back in 1982. Met the woman of my dreams there, sorted my life out with God there and now feel helpless- many tears have been shed way over here in Canada for you all. Christurch is a special place, and always will be.
AK   #35   08:11 am Apr 21 2011
Another beautifully written article Vicky. I've really enjoyed reading what you've written post "it" (as you referred to the EQ earlier I believe). I live overseas now but came home to Christchurch for a visit and arrived at 11am on the day of the earthquake. Reading your words it all brings it back, and I find myself being a bit of an earthquake junkie, trawling through online sites for an update on the city that I truly love. We (like people not living in Christchurch) have returned to a level of normality that Christchurch won't have for a very long time. Thank you for your articles - I've read them several times over and over and I cry every time.
Ken   #36   08:16 am Apr 21 2011
It's not surprising that there is 'earthquake fatigue' of different kinds - within and outside of Christchurch. Naturally 'The Press' is going to have more articles and information relating to the earthquake and it's after effects etc. For those outside of Christchurch who have 'moved on' - lucky you, Christchurch people don't have that luxury. Aftershocks are a fact of life here and in the emantime we all just have to get on with it. For many in the hardest hit easter suburbs etc this is easier said than done. As much as the rest of NZ may be over it it's important that we are not forgotten here in Christchurch as we are going to need support for a long time yet.
Ellie   #37   08:18 am Apr 21 2011
This really struck a chord with me - on pretty much every point.
I have been reduced to tears on many occasions by the generosity of the people around us, and I cried again reading your stories of strangers helping out. It's not the bad things that have reduced me, hard though they are to deal with, it's the knowledge that so many people are still out there being so kind.
The thing about earthquake fatigue and how it's hitting the rest of the country - yes I can understand that too. But the story about how our paper is so focused on the quake while others have moved on reflects my own experience. It was close to six weeks post-quake before I stopped skipping over 'normal' news. I just wasn't ready to look anywhere outside what was happening here. Insular? Perhaps. But I live in the east and day to day life is so abnormal that ordinary, normal news just seemed so irrelevant. For this reason, I love that CTV is back on air. Focused as it is on the city, there is no guilt in being one-track as I watch it. It is a sanity saver.
Yes, we all have earthquake fatigue of various sorts but as you say this isn't a sprint, no matter how much we wish it was. We're in for the long haul and I'm thankful to know that people like the ones commenting here are right there with us. Even if the news has moved on, it doesn't mean that they aren't still here giving us the support we still need. I have to say a heartfelt thanks to all who have been so generous and all those who continue to be so supportive. I really appreciate it and I'm sure my fellow Cantabrians do too.
Di Geda   #38   09:03 am Apr 21 2011
I'm so glad I read your article Vicki. It expresses your sentiments beautifully.I live in Italy but was home for 2 months over Christmas and by some incredible twist of fate,departed 45mins before the quake struck.I was a shivering wreck in Singapore having heard about the tragedy 2 hours before landing.Luckily my family and friends were not injured but the shock that I felt was unnerving as I kept visualising the city crumbling and the distress people were coping with. I am not surprised Cantabrians and New Zealanders rallied,I can so imagine the wonderful gestures of solidarity,generosity,compatriotism that ensued.We can be proud to say that our citizens step up and are stupendously magnanimous people.Thankyou to all who gave.As a ChCh gal, I truly appreciate it.
gina   #39   09:54 am Apr 21 2011
A friend phoned an Auckland distributor to find out where she could purchase an item as both the stockists she usually used in Christchurch were closed because of the earthquake. The distributor obliged by giving her the names of the same two stockists and was completely amazed to hear from my friend that they weren't trading! Then he went on to say the he'd wondered why his order books were a bit thin! Earthquake fatigue??? More like earthquake ignorance in this case!
Jason   #40   09:55 am Apr 21 2011
Many thanks for this article, it is exactly how we are feeling. I live in Bexley, but thankfully the old part - the side that borders Aranui (And it's still weird seeing that written down). I have to ring my parents in Dunedin after any decent aftershock to make sure they kn ow I'm okay. I work in retail, and the stories from people about why they need quotes for EQC is devastating, and I try my best to make the process as easy as possible for all concerned... The rest of the country may consider the Earthquakes (capital E) old news, but I find it hard to consider anything else as important - though I feel blessed and amazed at the help given to us down here, and as you said, nothing but empathy and sympathy for Japan
Hels   #41   10:28 am Apr 21 2011
Not all of us outside Christchurch are over it!
With earthquakes overseas, it's easy enough to forget once the initial coverage dwindles. With Christchurch, we know people there - we are concerned with the ongoing problems people are having (dealing with insurance, EQC, the endless aftershocks). Some may have "moved on" but believe me, many people are still concerned and caring.
Geez   #42   11:03 am Apr 21 2011
What a brilliant article. This completely opened up the flood gates for me! I have been trying to hold it in, trying to be brave, trying to 'get on with it', trying to be stoic and now after reading this I am allowing myself to just crumble and let it all go... hopefully I will feel better for it. Hang in there Cantabrians - love to everyone xx
Bob   #43   11:37 am Apr 21 2011
As Nic #10 said very well written, and good on the guy in Nelson who helped that family and to the Warehouse Nelson as well. it's the little things that mean the most, not some one giving a mil to some fund, it the people who just stop and buy a coffee or just listen or in this story just help pay for little things. Good on you NZ this just shows that we are one people under this bad event and history will show that.
lisa   #44   12:03 pm Apr 21 2011
As someone from wellington. i want those of you in chch to know, that you are not forgotten. Its hard for us to imagine just what your going through, tremble after devastating tremble. and i think thats exactly the point in regards to earthquake "fatigue" its not that we are tired of hearing about it, its the pure simple fact, that aside from donanting what we can, we all feel extremely helpless and that we truley have no idea just what it is like to live somewhere where you are constantly on edge, wondering when the next movement will come. wondering if perhaps the next time you wont be "so lucky"... I even find in wellington looking out my 12th story window at work that if the wind howls a certain way, or the building sways slightly, I stop. heart beats a little faster and i brace myself "just in case."..
chch we have not forgotten.. and although this may not be "front page" worthly anymore according to the media. We are still thinking of you. still trying to imagine the overwhelming task of rebuilding your lives.. still hoping, still praying and still here.

danni   #45   12:11 pm Apr 21 2011
what a fantastic article!! as soon as i got through the first paragraph i started to cry im from christchurch and know its been hard but we will get through this and your so right thankyou nz we rock as a country (no pun intended) we all need to keep comforting eachother and keep our heads up!
Christine (another one!)   #46   12:12 pm Apr 21 2011
Thank-you for sharing those very touching stories.
Those people who have told you they are over it or moved on do not speak for everyone from outside the Christchurch region. I follow Geonet on Twitter and my heart sinks when I see yet another bout of shudders in Chch. The Salvation Army has sent, and is still sending, people from all over the country to help, and as far as I'm aware is still asking for more volunteers. One of the first things that occurred to me after the February shake was that there would be people who would run out of patience and compassion long before patience and compassion were no longer needed. It strikes me as being very much like a grieving process in that way - there will always be people who think you should be "over it" by now, but it's none of their business, and frankly they have no right to demand that you speed up your recovery so that they don't have to care. But by the same token people who are relatively unaffected by the incident *will* move on with their lives before you are ready to do so yourself. That doesn't mean they don't care! Unfortunately the comments sections on Stuff have a tendency to be a bit of an asshole magnet (glad to see this one hasn't turned that way yet) and you can get the distinct impression that there are far more self-centered, unfeeling dickheads out there than there really are!
Vix   #47   12:19 pm Apr 21 2011
Having just visited Christchurch from Auckland, and being there for Saturday's aftershock, I have a completely new respect for what the Cantabrians and going through. I feel so lucky that I only had to experience the one aftershock (and a little shake later on that night), and I cannot imagine what it would be like to live everyday, constantly expecting the next one. Stay strong Christchurch - our hearts are definitely with you.
Mel   #48   12:21 pm Apr 21 2011
I think a component of the "fatigue" the rest of us are starting to feel is that we have done what we can (and many, as you point out in the article have gone above and beyond) and are stuck now sitting around waiting for things to get better down there. Thank you for your gratitude. Its not something that has been expressed so clearly before.
We have nothing more to give, and feel guilty to be moving on with real life when we know things are still hard down there - so a lot of us are starting to avoid talking / thinking about it.
Some of us are also dealing with people we know down there whinging about how little seems to be being done for them - when out of there, we have been giving and doing everything we can. Or complaining when we dont check in on them after every shake - even ones we dont hear about!
The attitude I have experienced from friends down there has depressed me sometimes - I've been told off for mentioning that we've had a hard time of things in a certain regard, because we are "so much better off". Not to belittle the problems down there, but the rest of us are still having illnesses diagnosed, deaths in the family, losing jobs and other such things happen.
Jackie   #49   12:21 pm Apr 21 2011
Like all th ecomments,this article brought tears to not only my eyes but my hubby as well. As an Aussie living in ChCH I never dreamed in my worst nightmares that i would get to experience something like this.Waking up to the Sept quake i was in shock for hours wondering if it was all real.We hadnt even been in the country 12 months yet and we had to suffer something like that.But it was the Feb quake that really hit the hardest,obviously due to all the devistation it caused.We still cry thinking about all the lives lost and the city in ruins.We even feel guilty that we did not suffer any damage in our area when others have lost everything.I have a little girl that freaks out when she feels any sort of movement,i am getting used to it now although it doesnt help the nurves.This is no way to live but for now we have to.But even through all this we are here to stay. Having just sold my house in Oz we are determined to get through this and call CHCH home for a while yet.

maggie   #50   12:32 pm Apr 21 2011
We fled to Hanmer hours after the quake as my young son was too scared to come back into the house. We stayed in a holiday home rental my sister had booked for me from Australia. A couple of days after the quake a person came to empty the bins. I opened the window and apologised for not putting it out on the road. The man looked at me soberly. I was a wreck, had not slept, had watched the misery on TV constantly, had cried and cried. He said "are you up from Christchurch?" Yes, I said. He shook his head sadly and sad with real feeling "you poor buggers". It was the kindest thing he could have said. He then told me he was a volunteer with the fire service and had gone down to help immediately after the quake. He had crawled through collapsed buildings trying to save people, seeing bodies so cut up they looked like "sharks had got them". He said he had broken down that day. This incredibly brave volunteer suffering deep trauma was emptying my bin and showing me compassion! "Be strong" he said as he left, "It'll be okay". Thank you, volunteer in Hanmer. You are a hero.

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