Christchurch Earthquake 2010 – Day 06.

Tremors continued throughout the day and the next night into the morning of Wednesday 9th September. There was a strong one at 0030 or thereabouts. I woke up in time to see a small grey shape streaking across the dining room floor; Molly heading for the cat door. No plaster fell from the ceiling, and there was no sound of falling books or breaking crockery. I went back to sleep and slept soundly until about 0600.

We were up early, breakfasted and hopeful of a return to normal. Ruth was getting ready to head into the Volunteer Centre and I was thinking that I might get into uniform and head back out into the world. Then at about 0750, as we were standing in the dining room by my computer, there came another tremor. This one was different from the previous ones. It was brief, but it was very sharp, as if it was very close, very shallow. I grabbed my brand-new computer monitor in one hand and Ruth with the other. We clung together of the duration of the shaking.

Then everything was quiet. The power was out again. We looked around. Once again, everything seemed to be intact; no cracks, no breaks. We cautiously opened the front door and looked up and down the street; the traffic lights were out all the way down the line. I sighed resignedly and went out to the shed to retrieve the gas hob with which I made a cup of coffee. Ruth had just made tea, which she now very frugally poured into a thermos flask.

I looked around for Molly, who had been nearby when the quake struck. She could not have got outside as the dining room door had been shut. She had to be somewhere. I looked under the skirts of her/my armchair. A pair of very large, very worried eyes stared back at me. I stroked her and the worried look faded, but she did not want to stay. She quickly headed outside.

The tremor put paid to any thought of going into town again, and we resigned ourselves to another day at home. Ruth set up the Canterbury Volunteer Centre Avon Loop Branch in the front room and for the rest of the day the phone was ringing almost continuously as she fielded calls from people either wanting or offering help. Another sharp shock at 0939 and another at 1450 confirmed our suspicion that seismic activity was continuing unabated, and news broadcasts added further evidence.

The power cut lasted for no more than a half an hour, so we were soon back up and running, but there was now no question of a return to work. It was not long before we heard that the State of Emergency, which the authorities had hoped would be lifted by Wednesday, had been extended. I did not catch whether it was ‘to a week’ which would have it continue it until Sunday, or whether it was ‘for a week’, which would drag things on until the middle of next week. Whatever it was, I was not going anywhere that day, so I spent the time watching DVDs and planning dinner; our old friend Jenny Gavin and her companion Graham were holidaying in Christchurch and we were going to have them around for tea.

They arrived in due time, having had their trip on the Tranzalpine Express cancelled [surprise, surprise!], and we had a very pleasant evening, all the more so because we could enjoy some normal social activity in normal circumstances despite all the upheaval around us. As someone once said, ‘there is always a little bit of heaven in a disaster area’.

To be continued:

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