reader report

Have you moved? Time away from Chch heals

EARTH MOVES: Cars trapped by liquefaction after the February 22 quake.
EARTH MOVES: Cars trapped by liquefaction after the February 22 quake.

February 22, 2011 was like any other day, the kids went to school and my wife and I went to work, I had just come back in to the office from the deck on the top floor of our High St office when the 12:51 shake started.

When it stopped everyone shouted to each other from other offices to make sure we were all OK. Our office was a mess, laptops and screens were thrown across the room, everything on our desks was all over the floor.

We all made our way out on to High St to see the devastation all around us, the street was like a scene from a movie, there were buildings down all around us and injured people, people running and the sound of sirens and people screaming is something which will stick with us forever.

I started filming on my phone just before the first aftershock hit, the wall of the building next to us collapsed, which was the building with Java Cafe on the bottom floor.

The video I've uploaded show the sights in High St straight after the quake and the first 5.9 aftershock. This was a day I'll never ever forget.

Once the police told us to get out of the city due to gas leaks we then decided it was time to move. Once we turned on to Madras St we saw the CTV building, this is a site the still haunts me and always will. It's hard to describe the feeling of seeing such a horrific site and I knew two people who worked in that building. Sadly, I later found out both had passed away.

The walk home to Avondale took about two hours due to knee-deep silt, sewage and water.

At one point a man in front of me just dropped in to a fissure waist-deep in liquefaction. I helped him out and I broke a picket off a fence which I used to stab in to the ground to ensure I wasn't the next to fall in to a hole.

When I finally got home it was an absolute mess. All I wanted was the security of home. At this stage I still had no contact with my family. Our entire section was covered in silt and sewage. The liquefaction had pushed up our wooded floors and flooded the house.

I finally made contact with my wife and found out she and the kids were safe, we made a route to walk and meet each other as she couldn't get the car anywhere near where we lived. When we finally met we hugged for what seems an eternity.

From there we made our way to her Mum's house where we had to lift the 80-year-old woman over two fences as the front drive was ruined and we couldn't take the risk of going down it as there was a car half-buried in a fissure full of silt.

We made it back to my wife's sister's house, where we all stayed for the night with no power, water or sewage, we all comforted each other during the dozens and dozens of aftershocks that happened during the night.

We couldn't get back in to Avondale on the Wednesday due to the bridges all being closed.

On Thursday when we finally got back to our house it had been red-stickered and had signs all over it stating: danger electrical hazard, do not enter. 

After a couple of days we made a decision to go somewhere where we could have a shower and get some clothes as I was still in my suit from the Tuesday.

We came to Timaru and have since built and moved in to a new house here. Our two children are back in to school and sports clubs and are returning to normality.

The quakes regularly come in to our conversations and they always will, it's a time in our lives that changed everything for us. 

Our plans in time are to move back to Christchurch, as we love the city and it means so much to all of us, but at this stage we're content where we are. We come back all the time to see friends and family and we can see the massive amount of work that's being done there, time heals.