READER REPORT:

It's better being on less shaky ground

FIONA PETERS
Last updated 09:20 21/02/2013

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After the June 2011 double whammy, that was it, I told my husband, we are out of here!

We moved from South Africa in 1999 to Auckland and then in 2006 moved to Christchurch for lifestyle reasons.

My husband and I both worked for the Christchurch City Council and were very happy there. We were both active in Civil Defence so worked the September, Boxing Day and February quakes. After June, we got the house fixed by EQC and sold it in five days and moved to Perth in January 2012.

Our main reason for moving was the mental state of our then 17-year-old daughter. She was in Kaiapoi when the February quake hit, and as it was lunch time the kids were mostly outside or had just started heading back to class.

Her most vivid recollection was watching the ground moving around her. So even two years and many counselling sessions later, as we approach the second anniversary, she is tense, snapping at every little thing, feeling sick and anxious, and she isn't sure why but thinks it is because of what she saw back in February 2011.

I know most people probably think, 'but she didn't really see anything that bad' - to her it was terrifying, probably made worse due to the fact that both of us worked in the city and she was in Kaiapoi, and it seemed every time there was a big one she was on her own at home or at school and it would take what seemed like ages before we could make contact to make sure we were all safe and maybe that made it just that little bit worse for her. She is also an only child so didn't have any siblings to go through it with.

I do hope with time that she will learn to cope with her feelings and memories and be able to move on with her life and the opportunities that Australia offers her.

Yes, we do miss Christchurch and our friends, and if it hadn't been for the earthquakes we never would have left, however for us it was the right move and I don't regret it, and one day we will go back to visit, maybe once the rebuild is well and truly underway.

It took us a good month to settle our brains down into believing that the ground had stopped moving and that every time a truck went past we didn't need to dive under the table, I still dislike being stopped at a traffic light on an overbridge, as it feels just like an earthquake under me when the trucks drive past.

It is hard to settle in a new country all over again and to find friends who can even begin to understand what we have been through. We are trying to find fellow Cantabrians, however, there don't seem to be many of them around Perth.

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So it may just be us on our own again up at King's Park at 7.55am on Friday marking our respects to the 185 that lost their lives on that awful day that changed everyone's lives in 2011.

Kia kaha Christchurch, you will rise again.


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