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READER REPORT:

Family is where my heart is

HANNAH HEMARA
Last updated 14:29 20/02/2013

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I didn't realise how happy I was until it was violently ripped from under me. A great group of friends, solid job, living in a very central location - I had entertainment, culture and food at my finger tips.

I was at work in Hornby when it hit. Everything rattled and glassware fell on the floor. That was about the worst of it. There were about seven people onsite and we all converged in the staff room. We still had power and had Sky in the staff room so turned the news on. I remember the ticker tape running across the bottom of the screen saying that a major earthquake had hit Christchurch and the news bulletin would follow Emmeradale!

Over the following hour and a half, the more that I watched the more that I realised that I wouldn't be able to get to my home. I lived a few doors away from the Pyne Gould Guinness building and there was footage of people climbing out of windows.

Even from Hornby, it would still take hours to get home 10 kilometres to get home - if there was a home to go to.

The red zone cordon was quickly established around my home in those first few hours. At that stage of the day, I only possessions that I knew that I owned were what I was wearing and the contents of my handbag. I didn't own a car at that time due to the cost and efficiency of the buses in Christchurch.

A very welcoming lady at work took me and gave me more than shelter as details became available to me. What I thought was going to take days turned into weeks. My plan to continue to work was overshadowed by the overwhelming need to find accommodation and sanity.

After two weeks of couch surfing and trying to keep my job, I made the decision to move home to the welcoming arms of my family in Dunedin until I knew what would happen to my home.

I applied to a manufacturing plant in Southland as an operator and I was successful!

If it wasn't for the job, I would never had considered Southland as somewhere I would ever live. I moved down on a Friday and was meant to start on a Monday, but it snowed and I couldn't get the car out of the garage for the first two days!

Eighteen months later and I am settled into the job with great prospects to move within the company and with this brings more financial security. The lifestyle that my work roster affords me is fantastic and I am pretty content with how that has panned out.

Emotionally I still struggle though. The sense of loss - my home, friends and a city that I love - is something that I'm not sure there is an easy fix for.

What I have learned is that family is where my heart is. Without their support, love and understanding, I don't think that I would be here now in such a sane state. Glad that they are just up the road a few hours and I try to get home every six weeks or so.

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Memories are important. Photos, video, scrapbook, archive or display those that are important. After attending some funerals after the quake, it reinforced this idea and I do want the images of those I care about around me. I wish that I had photos of the apartment that I was in and where it was located. There is no point in regretting it now, just take photos of where I live now and even if I don't ever think that it is significant now, it may be in the future.

I am blessed. I got to walk away from the quake with nothing but a historical tie to the city of Christchurch. I got to start again in a great part of the country with time enough to be able to explore the southern end of the country.

I am blessed with the people who got me here and the presence they have in my life with their continued support and love. My earthquake heroes - those immediately after who welcomed me when I was in a rough situation have blessed me with their homes, family and understanding.

I was given an opportunity to start again and make it bigger and better than it was in Christchurch. Who am I not to relish in that and make the best I possibly can? I still hold Christchurch dear to my heart but for now I feel a southern change has me.


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