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).
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.