Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why Leave Now?

The only thing worse than aftershocks, is not having any for awhile. The last I felt was a couple of smallish ones on Tuesday night last week and then an even smaller one on Sunday morning. No decent ones for awhile could only mean one thing, a biggish one was coming soon. The Press ran a large headline of our chances of another sizable shake to cries of scaremongering. I don't think so. These guys were in the Square, in a building now listed for demolition and if I was thinking the aftershocks had died down to early February levels, I'm sure I wasn't the only one thinking about what happened in later February. These days we don't have quite the security we did after September of dodging the worst of it. The worst happened and just when we thought it wouldn't.
We still have a box of things off the book case that sits under the table in the office. I put the full bottles of wine on the pantry floor and we put string across the shelves in the garage. We are thinking whether to put a kiddie lock on our tall cupboard with all our glasses and crockery. It hasn't opened in any of the quakes so far and we haven't lost anything out of it but what if we get a large, shallow, close aftershock?
Queens Birthday Monday morning - it started slow, built up and just as we started to wonder.... it died down to a gentle rocking. Flowers in a vase swayed and the kids ran and sat in the corner where the table used to be (old quake habits die hard), and finally the ground stopped rocking - it was a bit of a long one. It was the sixth largest but I've decided that doesn't mean a thing. Nothing compares to Sept 4th, the immediate aftershocks, Feb 22nd and that awful night. A 5.5 followed by calm is fine - we didn't lose power or water either.
We decided to go to the beach to wear the kids out before they drove us mad since they had the post, large aftershock, adrenaline rush. We had a bit of a discussion about going to Sumner. We hadn't been since a couple of weekends before February 22nd. Was it wise to go there these days?
We decided to go and I'm glad we did. The news shows all the devastation but it isn't like that everywhere, even in the badly hit suburbs. There were very badly damaged homes in Sumner and on the way - a house that looked normal until you saw the end of it had dropped off - but many houses looked totally fine from the outside. They probably have what is known here as; "the usual quake damage". The cliffs have completely changed in places and seeing Shag Rock (Rapanui) was pretty heart wrenching. But the kids played on the beach and made sand castles - this is their new future. Our past was a different looking place that has gone now but that doesn't make the future bleak.
That is the thing with Christchurch, it is crazy to say lets all up and leave. Where in New Zealand is safer from earthquakes? Apparently now Christchurch's chance of another biggie is equal to Wellington and the Hawke's Bay but I don't see too many moving from there in a hurry. We have our house here (admittedly with "minor structural damage" but quite livable until insurance fixes it), we have our business here, we have jobs and schools here.
Currently it is more stressful and not a day goes by that I don't think about the February quake - whether because a business I go to visit is no longer there or an aftershock hits or one of a million other things that have changed since February but many other things each day are completely normal.
Before the big quakes in September and February there was no warning - they hit out of seemingly nowhere, our cat didn't even get any animal intuition. I know now, my thoughts of what the future may hold can be completely wrong and I can't run and hide. There are forces out there much bigger than little ol' me and nowhere is completely safe so I have to make the best of it and luckily for us at the moment, that it is not too bad. (And my ipod of podcasts is still under my pillow, if I get woken in the night by a shake.)

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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.