READER REPORT:

Christchurch earthquake: 'I feel like I failed'

JEN HASTIE
Last updated 11:51 16/02/2016
Jen Hastie
STACY SQUIRES/FAIRFAX NZ

The only good thing I did that day was find a blind man a ride home, writes Christchurch woman Jen Hastie.

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I consider myself a caring person.

I've driven drunk strangers home who were nearly passed out on a neighbouring lawn, asked someone if they were OK when I saw them crying.

But it's not until you experience a natural disaster that you find out what you're really capable of. And in my case, with the Canterbury earthquake, I feel like I failed.

On that day, I'd been working in town. I'd been having headaches that morning and decided to go see my doctor. As I was leaving, the receptionist asked me if I wanted to make a follow-up appointment. I said no, as I didn't think I'd have the money, and left the building.

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Minutes after leaving the building I'd just exited, the CTV building collapsed.

I remember another lady and I were thrown to the ground outside. The gentlemen's club across from us fell down in a cloud of dirt and rubble. I asked her if she was alright and then started running towards Hereford Street.

I yelled at some Asian tourists to get out from underneath a building, worried it might fall on them.

I kept running until I found my work colleagues on the banks of the Avon.

A blind man from the second floor was there talking to a woman. When I came up to him, she left. Not wanting to leave him alone, we found other people I knew and as a group, walked down Durham Street North to a friend's car. On the way, my blind friend held my elbow and I told him what I was seeing, the devastation of Christchurch.

The only good thing I did that day was find a blind man a ride home. I didn't know where his dog was. It was later reported that the dog, who did survive by the way, saved him.

I also found out that the ceiling above my desk fell down, so it was a good thing I'd gone to see the doctor.

Knowing that, it makes me feel like I should have done more. I still carry that sense of guilt. I'm a caring person, remember?

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I help those in need.

Well, I thought I did. Seems that when things really happen, I just look after myself.

So, five years on. I finally feel like I'm ready to help and I'm eagerly waiting to hear whether I'll be accepted as an ambulance volunteer for St John.

I wasn't a hero in the past, but maybe I can be in the future.


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