Monday, April 18, 2011

Emotions and aftershocks

It has been a strange week.
I learnt more about another layer of this natural disaster this week - the emotional and psychological layer. Many people are just getting on, doing the best they can to do normality under the circumstances, but for others it is not just that easy. Some are very emotionally on edge or turning to things like excessive alcohol to get through. These are not just some random people over the other side of town but friends and family of people I see regularly. This is very real and very draining especially when those doing the supporting have also gone through this whole event too.
I have now washed all my non urgent washing - even non urgent washing becomes urgent when you start running out of towels and sheets. I added a little every wash and it is finally all done.
The breaking of a major sewerage pipe in Ferry Road this week, called for people to be more careful with using water and sewerage systems. They are now saying to not use dishwashers, no matter what part of the city you live in. Obviously noone can tell what you do in your own home and I am sure many people in the less affected suburbs in the west are carrying on as pre quake but we have stopped using the dishwasher. I can't do much to help those in other suburbs but I can do that. We were so good at being community minded in the initial few weeks - it is the long haul of caring for each other in little unselfish ways that is a lot more difficult.
5:49pm Saturday night reminded us why it was important. In our western suburb, we didn't lose power or get any liquefaction to deal with. The kids did dive under the table. This time Lucy was more badly affected than Tristan and was shaking afterwards. Tristan was caught up in believing his duvet house would shelter him from anything the earth cared to do.
Karl went for the laptop wobbling atop the television. I stood where I was undecided whether to grab the pile of trays and pans I had just taken out of the oven and put on the bench in a higgledy, piggledy pile. They slid but didn't fall. Above me the fly sprayer thing fell over but backwards not forwards so didn't fall on me. Then it all stopped and we got on with what we had been doing, with half an eye on the internet to see the magnitude - that one was worth checking out.
Lucy went to her room and came back holding her little canvas painting. This little painting balances on the lip above the wardrobe, against the wall and is the kids gauge of aftershock size. When they get scared, I ask; "Did the painting fall down." They check and if it is still up we agree the aftershock, was not worth being afraid of. She came back from her room holding it and smiling - even the painting had fallen down.
We knew it had been a sizable one and afterwards we kept getting little ones. Sunday morning we had a jolt wake up and Sunday night another noisy one rumbled towards our house, thwacked it and then seemed to rumble off into the distance. The blokes slept through that one but Lucy called out in the dark. Every aftershock is different and now we get them from all sorts of directions.
Do you remember the Boxing Day aftershock being in the news? People ran from Boxing Day sales and some buildings in town were damaged badly because it was centred very close to the city. After Saturday that aftershock, is no longer in the top 25 for magnitude. It doesn't feel quite real that we have felt so many.
I also went to a mall for the first time this week. These days the thoughts that ran through my head as I got there was I would park on the street. I didn't want my car stuck in a carpark building should another aftershock hit. Then when I couldn't find a park(everyone else having the same idea), I decided perhaps parking it in the carpark building might be a good plan, the car had been playing up a bit. I worked out even if I had to walk I would be able to get to the kids from there. Of course my logical brain was also suggesting, nothing would happen and nothing did. I thought how funny it was all those thoughts running through my mind and then Saturday night's 5.3 aftershock, makes the thoughts seem not quite so stupid.
The aftershocks are supposed to ease off within the year. I have asked Tristan if he remembers what it was like living before earthquakes and aftershocks and he says yes but he doesn't want the ground to be "rolly polly" on his birthday. They seem to come in clusters these days so he might be lucky.

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5 Favourite Sights Seen

  • 1996 Watching tropical lightning turn night to day, outside a little wooden church in a small village in Sabah.
  • 2004 Flying down the Rainbow Valley at 8000ft in a cessna on a clear blue day.
  • 2003 Seeing and hearing Michael Schmacher rolling out of the pit garage in his Ferrari in Hungary.
  • 2009 Chancing upon 100 or more dolphins just off the Kaikoura Coast swimming around, jumping out of the water, doing somersaults and generally having fun.
  • 2006 Finding a pool at the bottom of a waterfall in the bush at Kaikoura that was full of playing baby seals.