“Massive earthquake in Christchurch NZ!!! At 12:51 it hit, 6.3 and there’s 65 dead!!!!! Put the news on!”
That was the news I woke to from my sister on the morning of the quake, My heart sank – I simultaneously reached for the remote control and the land line turning the news on and dialing the international code for New Zealand, I felt sick so many things were racing through my mind as I was watching images on the television of buildings falling and women screaming….
The phone seemed to take an age to connect
Tuesday 22nd February, 12:51 local time an earthquake struck the south island of New Zealand measuring 6.3 on the richter scale, It was devastating homes, businesses, families and many many lives . I was sitting 12,000 miles away from the earthquake stricken city of Christchurch, I wasn’t in New Zealand at the time of the quake and I wasn’t even aware of it at the actual time it was happening but yet for a week it seems to have consumed so much of me, I’ve worn myself down until I am physically ill – I have family who live in Christchurch, In fact they live in the Burwood/New Brighton suburbs, one of worst affected areas of the city. The city is their home and their home has been shaken to the core.
I’ve devoured news articles and blog posts, I’ve followed and retweeted countless twitter accounts – I’ve worried my way through every after shock of which here has been hundreds and I’ve been doing everything I can to educate myself on how every piece of news I read could or has affected my family.
Things I’ve learnt this week, the meaning of the Moari phrase Kia Kaha, what liquefaction is, the geography of New Zealand’s eastern suburbs and the geology of earthquakes.
I know about kiwi power companies and their telephone infrastructure, about school closures and recovery programmes. The names of council officials, streets, businesses and hotels, The layout of the parks and water supplies.
I know so much about Christchurch and how to try and help my family from afar, I know where they can get food supplies and clean water. I know where the nearest working public phone is to their house – but I also know that in 2 months I’m scheduled to fly out there with my sister, my partner and my son. And I don’t know yet how I feel about that.
There’s no question that I’ll be going even if the very least I can do is shovel silt but to take my 11 year old into a disaster zone, knowing the risk of aftershocks – can I do that?
There’s nothing like a natural disaster to accelerate learning and knowing.