I had just finished purchasing lunch with my father at the T-Bakery on Gloucester Street. At first there was the familiar rumble of the some 4000 aftershocks we have had since September, but it quickly became evident it was a stronger shake. The next sound I heard was the derelict building attached to the bakery, cascading its way through the bakery wall some three metres to my left. As soon as I heard that wrenching of metal and brick I ran as fast as I could out into the street. It was impossible to run in a straight line. It was like running across travellaters that were going in opposite directions. The shockwave and dust was just so.. frightening is the only word I can find.. but it somehow doesn't do it justice.
People in the service station across the road were crying and screaming, though it appeared to be more from shock than injury. My workmate joined me on the opposite side of the road, having lost his sausage rolls in the mad dash. My father went back to the store frontage because the proprietors of the bakery had not come out. We go there for lunch three times a week, so they weren't just some random shop people for us, but I wasn't going near the building for anything. I just sat on the pavement and kind of stared around the place. A few moments later the man and woman who work in T-Bakery came running around the back to let everyone know they were okay.
you can see where the once two-storey building has slipped through the bakery wall
Following the immediate shock and making sure the bakery dudes were okay, we headed straight back to work to check on Nigel and Lisa, and the premises in general. As we drove back there was serious surface flooding, liquefaction bubbling up, severe aftershocks, the road basically erupting in front of us. The building at work looks okay, but there is a lot of mess that is going to need to be cleaned up. We are aiming to go back in on Monday. Work is in an area of the city between Dallington and New Brighton, and there are severe doubts about getting power back on there in a hurry. Power is pretty vital to our line of work, so this could get tricky.
Following that, Dad and I attempted to head home. There are some 18 bridges along the Avon river, and the three that we tried were non serviceable. We drove around for probably 90 minutes, in mostly gridlock traffic, trying to find our way across. In the end we parked the car near the Dallington Bridge and elected to walk the few kilometres to my home, and then another couple of blocks to dads.
My home wasn't too bad. There are two cracks in the driveway, but it's a single driveway so not too much of a problem. There is significant liquefaction and sand volcanoes in the back yard, and some minor ones in the front yard. The house appears to have twisted somewhat, as we couldn't open the door between the kitchen and hallway, or the door from the hallway to my living room. I was quite terrified of what may have happened to my tv, computer and xbox 360. After having a peek through some service doors in the kitchen, I was surprised to find they were all in pretty much the same position I left them. There is some damage where the chimney appears to have shifted slightly in my 'man cave', disrupting the cornicing around the ceiling, and dropped debris into the fireplace below, but hopefully this isn't major.
After making sure my uncle didn't need me further, I accompanied dad to his place. When we rounded the corner of his street, perhaps a stretch of 60 or 70 metres was underwater, thigh deep. It was impassable. I suggested we try going through neighbours properties to stay out of the water, but it wasn't such a good plan in practice. We just kind of sat there staring at it, and then my boss drove up! I don't really know what he was doing there but we jumped in his car and he forded the flooded area for us, and we got out closer to dads. Dads drive was covered in liquefaction and silt and water. We managed to get in through the back door, and almost everything from his pantry was on the ground broken, everything through the living room and hallway, was just.. thrown about. It was crazy. We spent some time digging up the driveway and trying to channel the silt out to the road, but the driveway had buckled downwards in the earthquake and the silt was pooling quite badly.
I went home to my uncles, and had some dinner. I had cream cheese and salmon on parmesan bagels.. because.. that was the stuff I figured would go off fastest with no power. My uncle told me about his afternoon, bringing a man in a wheelchair down 6 flights of stairs at work and then wheeling him, with the help of another workmate, some 2 hours home, then accompanying an elderly lady to her home. His work is directly opposite the CTV building in Christchurch, which collapsed entirely. It was 6 floors tall. 8 CTV staff are accounted for. The rest are missing. There could be up to 125 students and teachers from a language school which occupied the third floor.
There have been 98 confirmed deaths. This is certain to rise as more bodies are pulled from the rubble. There is hope that survivors will still be found. but that hope is fading.
I see pictures of the city on the net, on the news. and I know in my heart that it is my city. but my head has trouble accepting that these pictures can be real.
I know I am lucky to have escaped the bakery alive. I'm glad I'm here to share this with you.
If you wish to donate to the families of victims, the survivors, the people all over Christchurch who need water, support, food, accommodation. You may do so here, at the Red Cross of NZ.
Thankyou to all those who have been concerned about me. I am safe. I think I'm okay. I will continue to look after myself as best I can.
Love you all.