It has been a truly trying year for us all, excepting for a few absolutely wonderful things!
Feb 22: The 6.5 earthquake hit around lunchtime. I was in the staff room having lunch, and after September and all the aftershocks, this was so much worse. 185 people killed, many injured and so many lost homes, businesses, family and friends.
We were so lucky in so many ways. Our house is ok, we have suffered only minor damage ($20,000), and we were so lucky to have not lost 2 of our children. My stepdaughter was standing with friends in front of the Cathedral (which collapsed) in The Square, and they had just decided not to go in. They ran for their lives while buildings fell around them. My son was walking along the street in the city on the way to Jazz School and luckily had the presence of mind to run into the street as facades above him fell, had he not, he would have been crushed.
We were lucky as we had no liquefaction either, but we had no water or sewerage for almost two weeks, never thought we’d be digging in our own garden to bury toilet waste and going down to the water tanker down the street to get water.
The city has been changed forever, our hometown is no longer what it was, and never will be. We are now starting to rebuild, plan for a new city and new communities. It is hard to explain how you feel when you drive through your city and whole blocks have gone, iconic buildings disappeared or crumbling, and every day you hear people talking of the stress and loss they are feeling.
The library closed for several months and I worked for a couple of weeks on the emergency call centre phones fielding calls from distressed and sad people desperate for help.
March – April : Of course, the plans we had made for our wedding in April the wedding unravelled somewhat, we had planned to get married in a gorgeous cave that had been set up as a venue, complete with candles, dance floor and sadly it was covered in car sized boulders that covered the cave entrance and the adjoining house.
The caterer, ring maker, dressmaker and celebrant’s premises or homes were all affected, but we found a new venue out of town and the wedding went beautifully well, just as we wanted it to. All the people we had hired to help went above and beyond and we couldn’t have asked for a lovelier day. We did a ukulele duet, and I sang instead of the more predictable first dance.
June 25 : Two over 5 aftershocks hit midday, an hour apart. I was cleaning up the library storeroom with a colleague. The power went out, things were falling on us from shelves, and in the dark we couldn’t see what was around us to get out. It was very scary and gave me a glimpse of what it must have been like to be trapped in the buildings in town in February.
My work this year has been stressful, the library was closed many times, often for months, the city council staff moved in needing somewhere to work while putting the city back together.
I have been working all over the city at just about every library, which is hard, getting to know a new place, new people, customers are stressed and dealing with drama in their lives and often take it out on you, forgetting you are dealing with your own stresses. I am presently at Lyttelton library, a lovely port community severely hit by the Feb quake, with most of the main street gone and many homes destroyed. But it’s lovely there and I’ll be there while my library is repaired, and hopefully return there in February.
Post note: Dec23- A series of earthquakes hit again, within a couple of hours 3 in the 5’s and a 6.0, more liquefaction, more disruption and frayed nerves, but no loss of life, and not a lot of buildings down, I think mainly because they have already fallen!! Life here is so uncertain, just when things settle and we are all saying, “well, here’s to a quiet and peaceful Christmas” – this happens! Life seems never to be constant, predictable, safe here and you just can’t feel as if things are plan-able!