Exhausted both physically and emotionally from a long, horror-filled night in the city centre. Boots caked in dust, clothes reeking of smoke and face streaked with dirt, I don’t want to think about where he has been and what he has seen.
September was scary. A long, rolling rumble that went on for an eternity. Old buildings fell but much of our earthquake-proofed city stood up well in the face of a 7.1 magnitude quake. How thankful we were that everyone was in bed. How overjoyed that no-one was even seriously hurt. How smug about our ability to survive. They breed ’em tough in Canterbury. We can get through anything.
How wrong we were. A smaller earthquake but so very quick and violent. Mere seconds were all it took to destroy some of the oldest and most-loved buildings in the city. Even newer, stronger high-rises pancaked to the ground in an instant. And so many people, out enjoying their lunch break, trapped under falling verandahs and facades and piles and piles of rubble.
In September there was amazement and relief and story after miraculous story of survival. In February there is only shock and grief and tragedy at every street corner. The face of the city is changed forever and what we believe about who we are and what we can cope with has been shaken to the core. Press reporter Vicki Anderson writes “I stood on the edge of the abyss and peered into the darkness today.” Although the politicians talk about recovery, it seems an impossibilty. How do we even begin to move on from this?