If you were in Christchurch, what was your experience?
I was parked up just down the street from my hairdresser on Settlers Crescent in Ferrymead. I was probably looking at work emails or facebook on my phone. More likely the latter. All of a sudden there was this violent shaking, kind of a side to side and bouncing motion. Street lamps swayed violently, cracks appeared in asphalt straight away. This was one hell of a shock. I'd missed the quake the previous September so this was by far the largest 'quake I'd ever experienced.
I pulled up into the car park at my hairdressers and then moved again when I realised I was parked in front of a large pre-cast concrete wall. Clients were outside with the staff, foils in hair, colour running etc. For a while, the hairdressers went into clean-up mode (foils out etc) so the ladies could leave. One left regardless, mid-colour. I decided to drive across town and drop my hairdresser off at her place (Merivale way I think) and then head to my niece and nephews' school on Clyde Rd.
Liquefaction was rising rapidly. It would have been ankle deep by the time we made a move. I crossed a traffic island on Ferry Road unwittingly, as it was submerged, to get to the Mega Ferrymead car park. Traffic was gridlocked heading towards the CBD, so we decided to take Linwood Ave and skirt around the Four Avenues. Linwood Ave was slow going also. We were listening to the radio and regularly trying to call and text family and friends. I puffed a couple of darts. A report came through that the near-new control tower at the airport had collapsed (innacurate as it turned out). There was talk of loss of life. Smoke and dust billowed up from the CBD and as we drove farther down Linwood Ave and turned onto Gloucester St, we started seeing the occasional person walking, covered in ash/dust/debris and one or two also had blood on them.
We got to Fitzgerald Ave, then Bealey Ave and then eventually to my hairdressers' place in Merivale. Still no contact with family at this stage and unbeknownst to me, my sister had only just made it out of the Globe Cafe on High Street and was walking all the way home to St Albans/Mairehau. Had I known, she would have been the priority. I proceeded on to my niece and nephews' school only yo find out they'd been collected by my sisters' partner at the time. I think by now I'd finally heard from Mum and maybe Dad. Both were ok. Mum was in Halswell (largely unaffected as opposed to the September quake) and pretty much just chilling. Dad's apartment was in the CBD - just - so I asked him to come to my rental in Avonhead, but he ended up at my sisters'.
I then went to my flatmates' kids' school in Avonhead but they too had been collected, so I headed home. About then I heard my sister was ok. Phew. I had to scramble over a fence as I'd gone out through the garage door that morning and had left the snib lock on inside the front door. Oops. Then I got in through an unsecured window. We didn't have any power, and I was at a loose end. My Mum and step-Dad owned a Night n Day store on Riccarton Rd and they were heading there, so I went to help (I didn't know what form that was going to take). When I got there, they'd opened it up and a queue of people were outside asking to buy things. We spent the next couple of hours taking an order at the door (short of the dodgy looking canopy), getting the items, taking a rough cash payment and moving onto the next person. We didn't know it at the time but hours earlier a chap had died in a car not 10m away in front of a building with another dodgy canopy.
It was close to dark when we finished. Naturally there were no 'staples' left ie bread, milk etc, or 'fresh' food, or alcohol, or cigarettes and plenty of other things. I went home. My flatmate was there, with his kids, and we cracked a beer. I lit the bbq to boil some water and cook some lamb chops. A few minutes later we regained power. The rest of the evening we were glued to the tv.
I recall the company I worked for were pretty quick to tell us we had the rest of the week off and that our building, plant was being checked etc. They offered some advice re phone charging and told us we could fill up on the company if we chose to go somewhere.
The next day I went to the shop to help clean up and the day after my flatmate and I headed to his girlfriends' neighbourhood with spades and a wheelbarrow and just dug liquefaction for hours on end. We cleared a couple of houses. We'd had various people come and stay with us the previous couple of nights. We were lucky we had power, but no-one had water. Bathing consisted of buckets of water and soap. On Friday, my Dad - unable to return to his place inside the CBD - and I drove to Dunedin to stay with friends of his. All the service stations were nuts. I spent a large part of the trip making calls to arrange Tyvek brand over-alls for USAR staff, which was pretty cool and felt like a contribution to the recovery as I drove in the other direction. At McDonalds in Oamaru I washed my hands really thoroughly for the first time since Tuesday, and upon arrival in Dunedin we had showers. Possibly the greatest shower ever. That night we went out for a few beers and at bars throughout the Octagon, locals were wearing red and black face paint.
We went back to work on Monday but all we did was jump in a ute and head to a work mates' badly affected house and got digging again. I think over the next couple of days some normality returned in terms of routine, but whilst my memories of the 22nd itself are vivid, that time is a bit of a blur. I can't believe it's been ten whole years!