February 22, 2011

State of Emergency - Day 1

Christchurch is in a state of chaos now. We were once again hit by a massive earthquake at  a magnitude of 6.3 today. The magnitude was comparatively smaller than the September quake last year but this time, it was shallow. Only 5km deep. The shallower it is, the more severe the damage.

When it happened, I was sitting in my office on the fifth floor, getting ready to leave. I had just finished posting an entry in my blog when all of a sudden I felt a thundering tremor that shook the entire building. It was a violent shake. I wish I can I explain how horrific it was. My mug fell off the table, the file cabinets toppled over each other and my keyboard skidded off my desk. I heard my friends calling me, asking me to leave the office but I couldn't move. The shake was so severe that you just couldn't stand up. I sat there, watching the stuff falling from the shelves.

After a minute or so, I can't really tell, the shake subsided. It was then that the fire alarm and sprinkler went off. I quickly gathered my stuff and dashed for the door. At the hallway, I saw water everywhere. I could feel my legs wobbled as I ran towards the stairs. My colleagues were panicking too and some were crying. Kusai waited for everyone to come out and told us to evacuate the building immediately. I ran down the stairs as if my life depended on it.

We were told to gather in front of the car park but I couldn't be bothered. I just wanted to get the kids. As I was walking to the daycare, I felt tears welling up my eyes. I didn't understand why I was being so emotional. I couldn't think straight cos I was shaken.

When I got to the centre, the teacher told me to wait outside. They were evacuating the building and everyone was asked to wait at the parking lot. I waited anxiously for Alden and Alva to come out. Alden appeared first. While all the other kids looked distraught and scared, my boy came out with a big basket of toys in his hands. I smiled a little when I saw this. Soonafter that, hubby called to ask if we were okay. I told him what happened and continued to wait for Alva. Seconds later, she appeared with her teacher. I was so relieved. I got the kids in the car and headed home.

On the road, it was a total chaos. Power line was cut off so none of the traffic lights were working. Somehow, we managed to get home safely. We couldn't get in through the front door cos I think the house has tilted a little so we went in through the back door. After getting the kids in the living room, I reached for the phone to call my sister. I don't know why but I had this pressing urge to talk to someone from home. So I picked up the phone and called her office. The moment I heard her voice, I broke into tears. The whole incident was just too overwhelming and shocking. Soonafter that, hubby got home and I felt better.

I called my Christchurch friends to ask if they were alright and thank goodness, everyone's okay. But when I turned on the news, it's a different story. The city centre was badly hit and multiple buildings have collapsed. So many are injured. Hundreds of people are still trapped under the rubble and some are trapped in their cars. Roads are closed, hospitals have run out of ambulance, buses have been crushed by falling masonry, more than 1000 people have nowhere to go, phone lines are dead and rescuers are beginning to pull battered bodies out from under the wreckage. Despite all of this, the aftershocks continue, as if we haven't had enough. There've been so many aftershocks, I lost count.

As mentioned earlier, so many buildings in CC are damaged. One of them is Christchurch cathedral, the most iconic landmark in Christchurch. It's heart breaking cos the cathedral had managed to withstand the September quake last year, giving Cantabrians some kind of reassurance that they could survive the challenge of rebuilding the city. I'm not sure whether it's repairable now.  I am also worried about my friends who are fellow guardian volunteers at the cathedral.  Some witnesses told reporters that there were people were in the tower when the quake happened. The spire has collapsed and the tower is now demolished.  I hope and pray that Quintin, Nicki and Ngari are okay.

At the moment, the PM has confirmed at least 65 deaths in the quake and declared a state of emergency in Christchurch. The city is now in a state of devastation. I am thankful to God that we are okay, but my heart goes to those who have died and are still trapped in the buildings. Let's pray for everyone who's affected by this terrible event. 

16 comments:

Wyne @ Mouren Mauve said...

My pray to you and your family. Keep in touch with your family at back home here. Take care.

Caroline said...

Must have been scary.. thank God you all are ok..

Tina said...

I saw the chaos on TV. Take care Lizee. Glad to know you and family are OK.

JIPP said...

Gosh. Thanks God you and your family are OK Liz. It's all over the news here in Malaysia now. Even right now I'm watching the news reporting about it on BBC. I'm so sorry for the cathedral. It's on my list of must-visit places on my trip to NZ. I really hope it will be restored, if not fully, at least the main structure. Stay safe there.

Jewelle said...

I have goosebumps reading your account. Take care.

CathJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CathJ said...

Oh gosh Liz.. My heart pumps so hard reading this.. Thank God you all are safe...

will pray for you all there..

take care.. stay safe ya..

Mell_f said...

Saw the news on tv and the first thing came into mind was u. Thank God u and family are ok.

chegu carol said...

My mind and prayer with you and everyone there Liz. Really glad to know you're all OK.

Aunty J said...

So glad to know that you and your family are alright...do take care..

Amanda Christine Wong said...

Gosh, reading the news about it was sad. But reading a true personal first hand account, i have no words for it. Glad u're okay though. My heart goes to everyone in CHC.

debrajill said...

o goshh kak! glad you all okay! so shocking o kan..saya pun emotional ni baca, adada,,thank GOD you all okay!

LaViaP said...

i heard the news last night and thinking "s**t, i have a blogger friend there!". thank god you & your family are safe.

umm, being a structural engineer, could you temporarily move to other location, i'm not really fond of "tilted" house. i'm sure there would be aftershock, it would be wise to get your family near a table or doorways, the only two place that i know is safe in a building.

take care.

Octavia said...

Thank God ur safe liz...the news showed quite a bad picture of Christchurch. I was silently praying that I didn't see you as one of the victims on t.v. Bah stay close to strong building foundations at the moment. I remember when we had our earthquake drills in US that the safest would be under tables and doorways. Tapi, cute pula si Alden kan ..so oblivious to the surroundings...siok siok dia angkat toys dia.

karulann said...

Take care moi..

Lizeewong said...

Thank you everyone. It's been hard but I am lucky to be alive and safe here.

Paival- Nda juga tilted the house but the door's hinges is broken. Can't move to a new location cos we are told to stay put. Just pray that we'll be safe.

Oct- Thanks for your prayer. Ya, Alden's reaction cheered me up a little :)

Thanks again for the prayers. It's all that is needed now.