February 26, 2011

A bad week for my little corner of the world

On September 4th, 2010, Canterbury,South Island, New Zealand was hit by a massive earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter Scale.  Many people were left homeless as a result, but we were all hugely lucky that no lives were lost, largely due to the time it struck - 4.35am.

For the 5 months since, we have endured several thousand aftershocks, each an earthquake in their own right.  Alot of these have been large enough to cause further damage to properties all over the region, particularly the one that hit on Boxing Day 2010.

We have comforted our children, many of whom have had all sorts of troubles stemming from the earthquake (mine included) by assuring them that we had got through it and an earthquake like that was something that only happens every few hundred years, and we had had our turn...it would never happen again.

Except life isn't fair sometimes, and this week, it did happen again.

On Tuesday 22nd February 2011, at lunchtime, Christchurch and Canterbury got hit by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake that absolutely and totally devastated our city centre.

I immediately thought about the amount of times we counted ourselves lucky that the September one hit when we were all safely in our beds, and how this one was going to show us how unlucky we could be when it hit at a busy lunchtime, when families were spread about the city going about their day...kids at school...parents at work...at appointments...driving somewhere...shopping...having lunch...

I felt sick.

I was at home with my son and we were fine, albeit totally shocked at the speed and violence of this one.  My husband ran to school and checked on our daughter and she was fine too...not even upset by the quake which amazed me, given how affected she was by the Sept one.  She even wanted to stay at school for the rest of the day, so as much as I desperately wanted my family all close, I let her stay at school, not wanting to overdramatise the situation for her.

The news started filtering through pretty quickly, thanks (?) to this digital age we live in.  It wasn't long before we got an idea of how bad it was.  (Whilst the magnitude was much lower, the epicentre was closer to Christchurch, and shallower).

Buildings collapsed.  The Cathedral collapsed.  Shops collasped.  
Many, many more houses became uninhabitable.

The hotel my husband and I had planned to spend the night at tonight, while the kids had a night with the grandparents, has been condemned and is in danger of falling over.  
A week ago I was looking forward to getting rid of my kids for a rare break from them.  Now I cannot let them out of my sight.

More houses were destroyed.  Cars sunk into massive holes in the road that came out of nowhere.

Worst of all, people died. 
Lots of them, so many that on Day 5, we still don't know the final toll.  
It is in the hundreds already :(

There are an amazing bunch of men and women from all over New Zealand and around the world working tirelessly to rescue and recover people caught up in this nightmare.  It is humbling to see how much the whole world cares about this tiny little country of ours that has made big news this week.

We ordinary people are told to stay home, so that is what we have done, but it is hard not to feel useless and wish you could do something, anything to help.

Top of my list would be a magic wand, to make it all go away.
What we did do today, was welcome some young ladies into our home for a shower and to do some washing.  No hassle to me at all, their company was lovely.  To them, a shower when they have no electricity or water at their house made a big difference. 

The other thing we did was buy some razors and the kids gave some toys and games away to a local centre set up for people whose homes have been damaged.  
(The razors might seem random but that is what they needed - we asked first).  
There were some tears from my kids at giving away some of their stuff, but they dried up quickly...alot quicker than the tears of kids who no longer have homes...
Or the kids who are now missing a parent :(

Sorry this post is very wordy and lacking in pretty pictures.

I love blogs for the pretty pictures, and the escape they give from 'real' life, but behind each blog with the pretty pictures, there is a real person with a real life, and this week, life for Cantabrians wasn't pretty.

It will be again.  It has to be.

xx Karen


  1. How scary. As difficult as they were to write, you found the right words and I appreciate the update. Relieved that you are safe. You're right...Life will be pretty again and until it is, wishing you peace, hope, and healing.


  2. What a lovely heartfelt post.I think it has shocked many people even the ones who werent there.Has made me feel sad all week.

  3. Bless you for helping, even in a small way to you, but I bet it meant a great deal to those ladies. I hope you all find ways to heal your lives quickly.

  4. Ive been thinking of you, and so glad you are safe, though I hope there are no more tremors, how terrifying...
    It will be a long and grooling cleanup, but it will be pretty again, and I still would love to come and visit New Zealand soon.
    For those that lost their lives and loved ones, we pray they get through this and can move forward.
    Take care xx

  5. Hi Karen,
    I am a very new follower of your blog and am touched at how you have written this post. Your lovely country and people have been on my mind all this week as you all try to come to terms with this second devasting earthquake in 5 months. It heartens me to know that there are people such as yourself offering others help where it is needed. A shower and a chance to wash clothes when you have no home is a luxury.
    We love your beautiful "little country" as you put it and helping each other in a time of crisis is what makes or breaks us as humans. I just love what we humans can do when we get together for the good.
    I hope you have the best week you possible can in the circumstances. Stay brave and courageous. In times of sadness, grief and despair, remember people are thinking of you all, sending good thoughts and lots of love.
    Anne xx

  6. My dear Karen, this post encompasses all the feelings and fears that I'm hearing from friends and relatives in New Zealand. The tragedy is immeasurable, the trauma unbearable, but little acts of kindness such as you describe help to heal the wounds of loss and difficulty in perhaps a little but none the less significant way. Your kids are heroes giving up things that they love so that some other kids may have a little to smile about in the midst of heartache and destruction. Thinking of you all and wishing you peaceful times ahead.

  7. I'm been thinking of you and praying for you whenever I read about the tragedy in NZ. Glad you all are alright.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing! Really puts things in perspective. Sending prayers and best wishes!

  9. Glad to know you and your family are ok. From here in Auckland it all seems so surreal and so hard to believe such devastation has happened in our country.
    My brother's niece was knocked out by falling debris in a shop during the quake but was saved from further injury by the kindness of strangers.
    Our thoughts are with everyone in Christchurch.

  10. karen, my heart goes out to you and the people of your country. i will keep you in my thoughts, but am so relieved to know that you and your family are safe. don't be afraid to hug your children too much. i don't think that is possible.

  11. It's awful Karen, and so, so scary. We're all shocked and sad for those affected. Mother nature is bigger than us all, and seems to be showing us that in force lately all over the world. I'm glad you and your family are okay. xxx

  12. Hi Karen, What can I say? I have thought about you and wondered how you were coping. Glad you are all fine. I have been so sad about the devastation in beautiful Christchurch. It is too shocking for words.
    My thoughts are with you and everyone there. Take care and chin up.
    Pam x

  13. I've been thinking of you and am so glad you posted. This is so heartbreaking. Please take care!

  14. So glad to hear you are O.K.! My prayers are with you, your family and your countrymen!

  15. I am so glad to hear that you and your family are safe, Karen. My heart goes out to all of you and everyone in your country. I so wish there was something we could do here for you. Just know that all of you are in our thoughts and prayers.

  16. Hi there, Your words say it all. i am in Barrington and have some liquidfication on my property. I have been having propblems for most of the week coping and the reality is slowly sinking it. It just seems unreal. Thankyou for your words and I am pleased that I have found your blog.

    Regards, Vivien

  17. It is so sad. I live in the US, but am from NZ. Most of my family is in Nelson, but I have family and friends in Christchurch too.
    Thinking and praying for all affected by this tragedy.

  18. Keeping you and your country in my thoughts and prayers.

  19. Karen,
    It is so good to hear that you and your family are safe and well. I am so sorry to hear about what happened in your beautiful country! What a difficult time to have to go through. You will all be in my thoughts.

  20. Great post. I totally agree with you that every blog there is a real person with a real life. So true.

    This is devastating and it is hard to come to terms with how many cyclones, earthquakes etc are happening all over our world over such a short amount of time. So glad you and your family are safe.

    All the best over the coming weeks.


  21. Sending you thoughts and prayers Karen. I was so relieved to hear you and your family are okay, but so saddened by more tragedy in your precious home country.

    Be well.