So it turns out last September was our practice run. I think the Taniwha’s big brother woke up and had a party down there. Someone call noise control because it’s time to shut that party down – we’ve had enough here.
I had just finished my lunch as was making my way back to work in Cashel Mall when the shaking started. I grabbed a planter to brace myself, then looked up and saw the front wall of a building start toppling into the street. I ran to get out of the way, then looked up and the building on the other side of the street was also starting to fall over. One by one about 4 or 5 buildings in that block came down. I found myself in the middle of the street trying to figure out which building was going to come down next, trying to see through the cloud of dust that had reduced visibility to a few meters. People ran out of buildings screaming and crying, but I couldn’t see anyone near me who was actually hurt.
I don’t think my head was thinking clearly. Someone asked me if I was okay, and I said I just needed to get out from there. I remember thinking, they’ll need to evacuate and cordon off this street so I’d better get out of the way. I didn’t realise there were other parts of town even worse.
My next thought was to get back to the office and check in and let everyone know I was okay. I got to the Bridge of Remembrance, and noticed the join between the bridge and the footpath was damaged. I scuttled across the bridge and the footpath on the other side was buckled up a couple of feet. About that time I got a txt from Hubby “Did you feel that one?” The traffic lights were out, but I got across the road and made it back to the office. The building had been automatically evacuated, and people were scared, but even they didn’t realise how bad it had been. I was covered in masonry dust. I checked in with the boss (who was chief warden of the building coordinating the evacuation).
I figured the buses probably wouldn’t be running so sent a txt to hubby that I was walking home. The network was down but I figured the txt would get through eventually. It was received about 5 or 6 times as the cell phone servers kept resetting themselves and resending everything since the last backup.
There was more buckling at the edge of the Montreal Street bridge, so I waited until after a tremor had finished before running across the bridge. I didn’t want to be in the middle of it for an aftershock. I made friends with another lady walking to her car parked in Riccarton. We walked together to the Mall, where she went to check on her brother in law who works nearby. People listening on their car radios told me it was magnitude 6.3 and there were reports of deaths. My new friend found someone else going in the same direction as her who needed a lift since the buses had all stopped. We walked to her car near Shand Crescent.
About then my cellphone got reception again, and so I called Hubby to let him know where I was. He was home with all the children and everything was okay there. By Clyde Road I took off my shoes and walked barefoot because of 3 nasty blisters that had come up. About a block after that my new friend caught up to me with her car, and offered me a lift as far as our paths coincided. Traffic had started moving a little more freely. In the end it took about 1 1/2 hours to get home. My two year old came running out saying “Mummy! Wobbles!”
Updated: hyperlinks added for reference above. Everytime I shut my eyes I can see that wall toppling towards me. I just read a mother was killed in that street just down a bit from where I was.