Topic: Robyn's experience, February 2011 and after

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We had just walked into the large caryard when the ground started to roll, we were thrown apart,'floated' away from each other, a very weird feeling... I made a grab for her and screamed 'SIT'.. We huddled on the tarmac, it rolling under us... Situated in the Lot next door at the Champion Flour Mill were three massive flour silos, they began to rock side to side, the noise was horrendous...

My daughter Stacey had returned from 13yrs living in Perth just 3 weeks before Feb22...  We had gone out looking at cars for her and were in a caryard top of Moorhouse Avenue near Hagley Park...   We had just walked into the large caryard when the ground started to roll, we were thrown apart,'floated' away from each other, a very weird feeling...   I made a grab for her and screamed 'SIT'..  We huddled on the tarmac, it rolling under us...   Situated in the Lot next door at the Champion Flour Mill were three massive flour silos, they began to rock side to side, the noise was horrendous...   Cars in the yard were rocking side to side like something out of a horror movie...    I felt very calm, began to look around to see if anything would fall on us, only three massive flour silos, this is not so bad I thought!!  'yeah right' fortunately they were not rocking towards us if they did go hopefully they would fall either side of us....  Finally it all stopped, we sat there stunned, there was no another soul in the yard, finally I said to her 'come on we are going home'....   We got back onto Moorhouse and began the 15 minute drive home, I thought it would be a good idea to turn off onto Montreal Street...   Water was pouring out of deep holes in the Avenue, shop windows were smashed, huge lumps in the road... 

The nightmare had begun, we crawled along Montreal, afttershocks coming thick and fast, held up for half an hour by rescue workers being bused into the CBD, still the enormity of damage had not hit us until we turned into Tuam Street, the traffic was jammed, people walking away from the CBD, some covered in dust, women carrying their shoes, people bleeding.. A man standing in the middle of tuam Street stopping cars and telling people to divert, a building had fallen onto a bus and there were dead people... This cannot be real!!!  Managed to drive back onto Montreal and finally onto Bealey Avenue, driving in the lane closest the the trees everytime an aftershock hit I wondered which of the trees would fall onto us...  We had to drive around Bealey, sometimes driving away from home, other times towards home, driving through streets, mud and water covering the road, chimneys down, walls of houses down..   One thing that will stay with me till I die is the look on other drivers faces, grim faces, worried faces.. 

Cellphone coverage was sporadic, my sister finally managed to get through to me and told me my son Callum was safe, he had escaped from Eastgate Mall and had gone to my house, near Eastgate... Fortunately he had a key and let himself in, the Fridge was in the middle of the kitchen doors open and when he walked in the first thing he saw was a bottle of Vodka so picked it up, took a swig and surveyed the damage, the house was trashed...  He found my cat Shadow hiding under a bed, every room had broken stuff, furniture had tipped over, crockery had flown out of cupboards, power was off..  Bless him he found a broom and started sweeping up...

Four hours after leaving the caryard Stacey and I finally arrived home, most of that drive is a blank...  We walked in the door and Cals face just crumpled,  I have often read in books 'his/her face crumpled' had never seen it until I looked at my son, we all stood in the kitchen and hugged, we are all safe, we are alive, this mess is just 'stuff'...

Callum lived north of the city, we are in the East, he was unable to go home, so the three of us sat for five days, with no power, no water, sleeping fitfully at night and napping during the day...  I observed how each of us coped, Stacey cried, Callum was tense and angry, I was numb... after three days we came to the realization that no one was coming it was up to us to help ourselves...  We went to my Mothers house, she had been evacuated to my brothers in Blenheim, power was back on at her house, turned the TV on and the first image I saw was of the Christ Church Cathedral in ruins, that was when the enormity hit me and I cried..  Best thing I could have done, that out of my system it was time to organise ourselves...   A different way of living, if you need to go out to buy petrol/groceries I learnt, 'go early' then just stay home, the city was closed off around the four avenues, traffic congestion horrific... 

Everything we did took 3 4 or 5 times longer than usual, how much we take for granted electricity, water, phone...  Having a pee meant going into the garden, having a pooh meant going into the garage to a bucket with a plastic bag lining it and doing your business...

One night we were sitting listening to the radio... Stacey said 'what will we do if there's another big one'...  I couldn't answer that, Cal looked thoughtful then turned to her and said 'bend over, put your head between your legs and kiss your arse goodbye'...  we all fell about laughing and for the first time our moods lightened..   laughter is the best medicine...  We all 'made do' we never moaned, we just did what we had to do, we had each other, our family was intact unlike so many others..  We were lucky...

February 22nd 2011 brought out the BEST in most and the WORST in some, most of us did the best we could...

Robyn Sharon Best    (written 14th September 2011)


email written 1 March 2011 to various family/friends
Hi All
A reasonably quiet night, power came back on yesterday after five hours off from 1pm, I must admit the power going off rattled me, having it back gave us a sense of normality... Stacey and I busied ourselves brooming and a quick vac of the lounge, ironed spilt wax off the carpet, I do wonder though if any of us will ever feel completely normal again but at least we are alive to feel normal so praps I shouldn't complain...
Have just been out to get some petrol, (6.30am) phoned around this side of town yesterday and BP Linwood ave were open from 6am, so managed to fill 'swifty' up, used a tank of gas in a week, normally a full tank will do for around two weeks, funny tho, a day before the quake it was sitting on just over half, Stace and I were out and about and I said to her that I thought it a good idea to fill up, thank god...
Went past your house Mum, the chimney is down, there's two brick heights left, Tim has put heavy black polythene over the hole and taped it, no mess at all, I showed him where to put the rubble which he insisted on moving, so it's all down the side of the garage behind the gate, he said be a good idea to keep as many bricks as you can because they match the house... good thinking... unsure whether they had to replace any tiles on roof I didn't go into the garage to check just drove past on way back from getting petrol...
We managed to make contact with the people Stacey is buying the car from, seems a bit odd buying a car amid all this chaos, couldn't get through on the phone but through Cal we managed to make contact via email so are going to pick it up on Saturday morning at 8am, prolly leave home around 6am, go to Cals first.. Stace is going to stay out there with him on Sat. night, Wayne (his flatmate) is off to oz on Friday, he bought 1000Aud off stace.. also she and Brian have had a very good offer on their house (in perth) very close to what they wanted so are accepting, it will leave them with some small debt but as he has all the furniture which they bought together I suggested to her that she tell him that he take the lot, plus money owed to her from stuff she sold before she left (and hasn't been paid for) and take on the debt, that way once papers signed and sealed she can just move on...
So here we are one week on, picked up the PRESS this morning, might go and have a cuppa coffee and read it, we will join you all at 12.51 today so though we aren't together physically, collectively in spirit, we are... I am humbled by peoples kindness and thoughts and keep reminding myself we are alive and the broken 'stuff' is just that 'stuff' so many broken lives, not just the dead, their families..
Kia Kaha
Love, Rob, Stacey and Shadow
xxxxx



email typed 2 March 2011 to various family/friends
Hi All
Not a lot to report, road works are all over the place, potholes being filled, they hope to have all the liquefaction off the roads 30,000 tons of it, by Friday, the nor westers here today are blowing it all over the place...
Stace and I left home just before 6 this AM to go over to Cals, had a shower, first real good wash for over a week, then went to pak n save northlands... did a good shop including a chook so we are cooking a roast, Stace can't wait...
My neighbours hw cyl cracked and poured its contents all over the carpet so he has had a guy in to suck up excess, has big heater and two dehumidifiers in there... plumber coming tomorrow to put new tank in.... it's a shame that his place can't be rented until water pressure comes back up, it's just sitting there empty....
That's about all, nice to have a fridge full of 'real food' including chocolate, oh dear, but but but it fell off the shelf into the trolley, was too far to go back and put it back on shelf.... oh well will just have to eat it!!!!
love
Rob Stacey and Shadow (who by the way is much better, still snuffly but still eating and drinking that's the main thing) xxxxx


email typed 3 march 2011 to various family/friends
Hi All
Was going to email yesterday but two mornings of waking up at 3am and not being able to get back to sleep left me a tad jaded, the night before we'd had quite a violent short shake, had me off the couch, running around with Shadow in my arms, wasn't quite sure where I was going. It was quite unnerving... Stacey had gone to stay with Cal for the night...
Cal is staying at Mums, the area lost water on Saturday morning around 7am, at time of typing still not back on, there are many leaks up Linwood Ave so guess they have to turn it off to repair, patience is the word here... his cat Bubbles is settling in just fine, when Stace and I arrived on Sat morning a wee head poked out from the blinds staring at us, if he's outside she follows him around from inside, she never did the usual 'cat' thing of hiding under beds for 3 days just walked around hissing and meowing... Bubbles is 16 and has had so many moves from when Cal saved her from the 'needle' at aged 8 from a retirement village I guess this is just one more move.... 'meh'!!
The water pressure here is almost back to normal, it's just a matter of sitting tight, I do feel for those people without amenities but also feel that some are just incapable of looking after themselves... Armies of people going into the eastern suburbs working their butts off and some people just sitting on their arses watching them work, whining on national television, it infuriates me... Yes we all were confused and shocked for a few days but there does come a point where you just have to help yourself, by the time we got power back on and were able to use the toilet we were into a routine, a different way of doing stuff, yes, it took so much longer but what else was there to do??? Whining about how would Bob Parker and John Key like it have to have a crap in a hole in the ground?? well from what I've seen of both of them they would both be out there digging the hole and their neighbours also!!!! AS for that bloody SUNDAY program I refused to watch it, what is the point of pointing fingers at this stage, wait until the official report comes out as to why those buildings fell down,then, if need be, point the finger, at this early stage it just incites people, ME !!! In the cold reality and I say this with no emotion, considering the time of the quake the death toll was extremely low...
It's been raining here since sunday morning, in one way a blessing, dampened down that awful dust, my car is smothered in it, even in a closed garage it managed to cover the car... in reverse it's not going to do the stormwater system much good...
Stace and I are going to go across town this morning to Northlands to find a Library, probably shouldn't but I'm out of books to read, nothing open here, The Palms I heard will be about four months before reopening, Eastage, God only knows... The roads are improving everyday, 95% of the silt has been removed, with the cordon being reduced it means some of the one way system will be open diverting a lot of traffic. might go and have a look a Briscoes in Papanui (I can hear Mum laughing)..
Okay folks best away... thanx for your texts, emails etc. we are fine..
Love
Rob, Stacey and Shadow
xxx


These were posted on the TradeMe message board  at various times post feb22..
You know you're from Christchurch when..."
1.You use the term "liquefaction" and "seismic design" in casual conversation.
2.Digging a hole and pooping in your garden is no longer weird.
3. Your mayor describes the city as munted. If he means FUBARed, you agree
4.Weaving through car size potholes on the street is no longer weird
5.Going to Wellington to escape earthquakes makes sense
6.A shower is heaven
7.You have a preference of which kind of silt you'd rather shovel, dry or wet
8.You see tanks driving around town
9.You are always noting what you are under
10.Due to frequent aftershocks during the night, you sleep like a baby--every 10 minutes you wake up and sh*t yourself
that the white lines in the road are painted around the holes in the road
I woke up early the other morning grabbed the toilet paper and went outside for a number 2, when my mother in law's 3 legged cat hopped along sat a mtr away from me and squatted and took a number 2 as well, being a smart arse i offered him a piece of my toilet paper just about lost my balance due to laughing so much and nearly fell in our pooping hole. So alas i will say you know you are from Chch when you dont mind taking a poop with your family pet.
You start to doubt you're in Christchurch when..
- the supermarket checkout ladies are all wearing dust masks, and the shelves look like Russia during Perestroika.
- skateboarding on the footpath seems like a really bad idea.
- you hear how bad things are in Libya, but things actually look worse outside your own house.
- the sun is shining in your lounge and there's no window there.
...when you swap your handbag for a backpack and your makeup for a torch, water, a radio, a muesli bar and a face mask.
...you see a man in a shop wearing a bike helmet and think "that's wise".
...you have rediscovered the joy of chocolate and there's no guilt involved.  (HELL YES!!!)
you see a lovely park in another city and think it would make a good evacuation point.
when.... you no longer think the constantly swerving driver in the car ahead is drunk, but instead follow their moves.
when despite having lived your life in Christchurch you no longer have any idea as to the quickest way to get anywhere anymore.
..when you see the neighbours next door and say "Our pile of liquefaction is bigger than your pile of liquefaction"
You know you're in christchurch when you have to shine a torch into the long drop in the back yard to make sure you don't pee on another hedgehog thats fallen in.
You know you're in CHCH when the only Chimneys you see are horizontal or neatly stacked beside the curb....
Contemplate brushing your teeth with beer as you forgot to boil more water
- you dont have to stir a cup of coffee
- your toilet can make it onto Cambell Live and the nation admires your handiwork
- you can identify your neighbours by "oh thats so and so in number wotever"
- you get excited at a port a potty being put at your gate and it is the King of Port a Potties - its own sink and it even flushes and you ring your family to skite
- you take pictures of that same port a potty to prove its existence
- getting power on and you get so excited that you stand in your kitchen with goofy smiles on your face and hug your family..... 

This email was titled   I DO WONDER..... 
just how much more my little house can take.. I was awakened around 3am by a dog barking, it's eerily quiet, that hum of the city no longer heard... I am not sure which is worse, the THUMP of a car door makes me startle because often the THUMP is the announcement of another AS or the eerie quiet of the city while everyone sleeps... I used to find that HUM of the city quite comforting, the odd boy racer car roaring in the distance 'bloody idiot' I would fume... drunks wandering up the street, laughing or arguing, 'bloody idiots' I would fume.. now there is nothing, just the eerie quiet and the dog barking, then WALLOP another AS...
I lie in bed, teeth clenched, waiting to see if it's going to build, waiting to yell at Stace to get out of bed, listening to the windows creak wondering if they are going to implode, then it eases and I think 'that dog stopped barking just before this one hit'....
We sit down to watch TV and at times the floor rolls under our feet, we seem to feel every little jolt, it's better to be up and doing stuff not so noticeable...
In the dark I wonder when it will all end, will it ever end? or will we have to spend the next months/years 'living' with Aftershocks?, probably...
Then the daylight comes and I see people out walking their dogs, kids zooming up the street on their bikes and it doesn't seem quite so bad, we're all in the same boat... Some days I'm so bloody tired I can't get out of my own way, sometimes tempers fray or we just go quiet, we try to keep talking to each other, checking in with each other, trying to make some sense of it all... In reality there is no 'sense' to any of it, a random act of Nature to remind us just who's in charge...
Meh!

15 March 2011 to various family/friends
Hi All
Just thought I'd windup my 'updates'.... life, for us at least, is fairly back to 'normal'... EQC have been here, they are doing the rounds of homes doing a preliminary assessment, I hadn't thought to look at the house, a few more bits of mortar have fallen out but nothing at all in the grand scheme of things, much to be said for building your house on 'rocks' or clay as I believe it is over this way, must be very solid underneath... I do wonder tho if there are any cracks in the concrete floors, my neighbour is worse off than me, our houses are joined by a firewall...
I have been back working, cleaning up silt/dust filled houses and have ended up with infected sinuses, charming, NOT... one house in particular was extremely bad, they lost one inner and one outer brick wall, it looked like a bombsite, they are near the CBD and the force of the quake ripped their nightstore heater off the wall and threw it across the hall...
The roads are becoming easier to navigate though still many bumps/lumps and holes... with the reduction of the cordon it's eased traffic congestion and doesn't take quite so long to go from A to B, it was a nightmare we gave up and stayed home...
Friday is the memorial service in Hagley park, we have decided not to go, we will stay home and watch it on TV, it will be a nightmare trying to get there but someone said they may bus people there...
Cal and Stace are fine, I think Cal is working where needed at Marbecks stores, feel sorry for him, that's two shops he's lost from EQs, Northlands on Sept4 and then Eastgate on Feb22, he did get his mobile phone back tho, mall management had gone into Eastgate and cleared personal items from shops, apparently there's rotting food and the place stinks to high heaven... The carpark has been demolished, gone!!! Maccas is open, yuk!! hate the stuff... Stace is zooming around in MAVIS (we named her car) good that she has some wheels, she's stayed with Cal a couple of nights...
Shadow is still snuffling and sneezing, am back to syringe feeding her, she stopped eating yesterday, not sure what is going on there, she's had two lots of Antibiotics to keep any bacterial infection away, I wonder if it's the dust/stress of the past few weeks... She keeps biting Stace, Stace pats her and if she stops Shadz bites her (well a nip) then flounces off in a huff.... Have not had her sleeping with me cos she snuffles and fidgets through the night, right now she's in Staces room, think she's asleep on the bed next to her...
Take care all hopefully won't need to 'update' anymore
Rob, Stacey and Shadow xxx

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Robyn's experience, February 2011 and after by Kete Site Admin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License