Sunday, July 21, 2013

Earthquakes and the underside of tables.

Moving to NZ has really highlighted the importance of having sturdy dining room tables. Twice yesterday we had to dive for cover under ours and I have become incredibly grateful that when choosing our table two years ago we decided upon one of the largest and sturdiest in the shop.

Wellington has had two of the largest quakes the city has seen in many years. The first occurred on Sunday at just past 7am whilst we sat eating breakfast around the dining room table. It started with a large jolt, at which point we all stared at each other for a few seconds and then when the walls started to shake and the floor began to rumble we dived under the table, along with the dog.

We huddled together clinging to the table legs for a good 30 seconds whilst the dog merrily wiggled between us. I think he was probably wondering what on earth we were all doing getting down to his eye level for once.

The morning quake, although a bit worrying did not feel that scary. It was the one that occurred after five that evening which really shook me up. Quite literally. I was not at home when it occurred and was sitting around a dining room table chatting to four other adults, in an unfamiliar house. When the ground began to shake beneath us we all looked at one another and someone shouted "get in a doorway". So we all ran to the same doorway and tried to squeeze in together. It was a new build, open plan house, which didn't appear to have many doorways!

When the shaking subsided twenty seconds later I think all our nerves were a little unsettled. We all immediately tried to ring our respective houses and had trouble getting through as everyone in the Wellington region desperately tried to check loved ones were okay. 

My other half and the kids had once again all dived under the dining room table but they all seemed unfazed when I finally got through to them. They were more upset that there movie had been rudely interrupted.

The Wellington region has luckily been largely undamaged by the earthquake which had a larger magnitude than the deadly Christchurch event. Wellington city is eerily quiet today and many people who work in the CBD are working from home like my other half. Buildings in the CBD have been damaged and the fallen masonry and cracked roads pictured in all the news bulletins does bring it home just what powerful forces we are dealing with.

I think the emotional toll of this event is going to have more impact than any of the physical damage caused. Wellingtonians are a resilient bunch but people I have met today are still pretty shaken up. Everyone who lives in this region is fully aware we live with an active earthquake risk, but this event has forced people to face exactly how big and how likely that risk is. 

I popped to the supermarket this morning and almost all the bottled water had sold out. According to the chatty checkout lady they had sold thousands in emergency kit and water supplies in the few hours they had been open. This was mentioned as I placed my six litres of bottled water on the checkout.

Discussing yesterdays event with my girls I asked them were they happy still living in New Zealand even with the scary earthquakes. My eldest had no hesitation in saying that the earthquakes were not that scary anyway and she definitely still wanted to live here. My youngest looked at me and was obviously thinking deeply. "I want to live with Nan and Grandad" she announced. "What you don't like New Zealand anymore" I said rather worried that she had been shaken up by the days events. "No I just want to live with Nan and Grandad and all my family, they can live in my room with me". Phew, clearly six year olds aren't that bothered by major earth movements.

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