Topic: Louise's experience - February 2011

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I was on my lunchbreak and walking back to work in Spreydon when I couldn't walk or stand up. I thought I was fainting but was being thrown in all directions so was very confused.

I was on my lunchbreak and walking back to work in Spreydon when I couldn't walk or stand up. I thought I was fainting but was being thrown in all directions so was very confused. I fell to the ground on my bottom and everything was still moving so I then realised it was a large earthquake. People driving on Barrington St were pulling over and getting out of their cars to check their tyres, only to discover when they emerged that it was an earthquake. I ran home to check on my pets as I was nearby. The ground started shaking under me as I ran. My cellphone rang and it was my 13 year old son. "Help mum, the city is falling down. Get me out of here." I saw that the traffic suddenly increased to a standstill on Barrington St so I knew there was no way I could get into the city's CBD where his high school was. "Just stay with your teachers. They will look after you until you can get home. The roads are blocked. I can't get in." I later called my mother to ask her to walk into the city and find him. She was living on Purchas St, just one street north of Bealey Ave. Her upstairs flat was thrown around violently in this earthquake and all her possessions damaged. She was nearly thrown out her front door. She clung to the door frame during the shaking. She has since moved out and will never live in anything but a single storey home again. My mother walked into the CBD and after much searching found my son at Latimer Square. He had been on a window seat in a bay window on the first floor of an old building in Cashel St (Southern Star) with Hannah's shoes underneath. He had been thrown inside (fortunately rather than outside) with the shaking and had run all the way down the back of the building, down the stairs (with the ornate D.I.C. stained glass windows above) only to find the exit blocked by rubble. He and a couple of friends escaped through Hannah's Shoes. His school gathered it's pupils in Cashel Mall and walked past the Grand Chancellor and CTV buildings to Latimer Square. After a while my mother and son walked down Barbadoes St, rode in a taxi for a while from The Catholic Basilica over the Waltham St bridge. It got stuck in traffic so they walked through Sydenham. I finally received a call from them and found them on Disraeli St by Selwyn St and drove them home. From earthquake to when I picked them up was 3 hours with no communication from them. I had sat outside my house (due to the constant large aftershocks) with my pets and phones waiting to hear from them. It was a very stressful time. We toileted in our backyard for many weeks and still do not flush the toilet very often out of habit and wanting to relieve pressure on the damaged city sewerage system (July 2011). We showered out of town at places provided by families involved with Federated Farmers and country Rugby Clubs. My mother lived with us for about 4 months.

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