All it took was 70 seconds and the lives of 400,000 people were changed forever.  In an instant we all had one thing in common, we were fearing for our lives.  At 4.35am on Saturday 4 September 2010, our city was hit by the most devastating earthquake in the history of the city, at 7.1.  Most of it's residents were not even aware of the sleeping giant that lay below our feet and a whole generation of children had never even felt an earthquake of any magnatude let alone one that threatened their young lives.  The shaking destroyed homes and buildings and threw people and belongings on the ground.  As we scrambled around in the dark in our damaged and cracked homes, we were blissfully unaware of the horror and devastation that was to become the reality of the next twelve months.  The previous day I had picked some beautiful daffodils from my garden and arranged them in a vase.  They were a symbol of warmth and anticipation that only spring can bring.  Along with the rest of the damage, I mopped up the water that had poured all over my husbands computer and all over the carpet and picked up the miraculously unbroken vase and threw the flowers in the bin.  I no longer wanted to see the flowers, they held new meaning.  Since that day we have endured 8,500 aftershocks, some big, some small.  We have invented a strange new game called guess the magnitude and depth and location.  We have all become experts at this game.  We no longer wake up in the night for anything less than a 4.5 magnitude and don't run for safety unless it goes over 5.0 magnitude.  Everyone including preschoolers know about liquifaction and we all know the difference between s waves and p waves.

Just as they have in the past, my daffodils in the garden are looking a picture in the spring sun.  The difference is, this year I can't bear to pick the daffodils.  I am not a superstitious person, but they will not be coming inside, the wounds are still to raw.  I still admire them, but they remain a reminder of what has been.  It was fitting that today was Fathers Day, a chance to spend time as a family, enjoying each others company.  As I write this we have just had a sizeable aftershock, enough to stop me in my tracks, yet another reminder that this is not yet over.  Over the last twelve months we have learn't a lot about earthquakes but more importantly we have learn't a lot about what is important and that is the people that are close to us, nothing else really matters.


  1. That must have been a terrifying experience for all of you, and I am sad that earthquakes are such a common and ever-present phenomenon in your lives now. I hope the frequency is lessening.

  2. It is a very strange and trying thing to be living in a state of suspended animation. It is hard to remember what normal was like. No one knows what the future will hold, we just all hope for no more big ones.


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