Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sadly things got a lot worse

Some often ask where were you, when?

Well four yearss ago, SWMBO and self were in our mobile home at Steam Scene around five kms west of CHC Airport attending a NZMCA weekend rally for Grey Nomads.
Now Steam Scene, is a working museum for the power that ran this country in the 19th century when horses did the heavy haulage for most and the  common method of getting from A to B was to walk or shanks pony if you like.
A large boiler in the main building powers an impressive array of stationary steam engines from various industrial applications, there are  examples of train locomotives from the past that operate on a rail loop plus smaller scale models that have an inner miniature track for endless entertainment of children from two to too old who are attracted to the romance of steam.

So to be awakened by a roaring noise at 0435 hrs was not that surprising.
Not that we were in a deep sleep as our little dogs who were present in their part of the mobile home had been unusually restless for the preceding half hour. Normal solutions of walkies and a treat had been singularly unsuccessful in getting them, and consequently us, back to the land of nod.

Overnight aircraft noise were another masking for what was to unfold.

A roaring noise was a little alarming but then a violence that at first had us thinking the van was going to topple, thoughts then rapidly shifted to the threat from nearby pine trees as the frightening tumult continued.
Looking back with a rationality that was nowhere to be accessed at that ungodly hour four years ago, where better to be  than in a mobile home to experience a major seismic event.
Unless something crushes it or it is toppled, a van designed to move with everything secured and stowed, was a very good option.
Following a quick sortie to ascertain all was well and no other  people were in danger it was just sit tight until daylight, in fact we had the longest cuddle in our 50 year marriage.

Dawn was a little surreal and it was decided to return our van to its storage site two kms further  west and cut a track home to check out the bricks and mortar here in paradise.
First, relinquish the duty as first aid person and its equipment which was a rather daunting walk as the ground was still moving with the aftershocks that were such a feature of that event and now having endured over 10 000 of them are now pretty ho hum but to see undulating waves travelling over open ground was something very unusual and scary

Having returned our van to its base we  headed home, taking on diesel at Shell Carmen,  then south on Shands through Broadfields where the first evidence of Liquifaction were bubbling out of the ground, hung a left at Lincoln to Tai Tapu where the steps at each end of Sucklings Bridge were evidence of visual damage and on through Little River where the little Halswell Stone church was the most significant visual with its porch clearly damaged.
Steps again at each end of the Okana River Bridge but we were struck by the minimal obvious damage following what was by far the most severe earthquake in our nearly seventy years.

On reaching Aylmers Valley Estate an overwhelming feeling of good fortune as the seven year old dream retirement home was standing proud, intact and only suffering superficial damage.
Floors covered with possessions but so lucky the jams and preserves were on the concrete floor of the Garage and the pantry detritus contained behind the closed doors.
Most visual damage was to decks and paths surrounding the dwelling and some slumping of lawns and gardens on our sloping section that was unusually wet that year.

After counting our blessings and good fortune it was down to the first response station to see what could be offered to assist those with greater needs than our own.

In some ways it seems nearer a decade ago yet at other times it was only last week.

Two days ago we completed the restoration of the damage sustained in that first event.
Subsequent events did little additional damage unlike my beloved home city that was brought to its knees the following February on the 22nd when people died and the city we both grew up in and around entered history as memories only.

That no deaths accompanied that first brutal event was miraculous, location of the epicenter, time of day and a truckload of luck contributed to that, unlike the disaster 171 days later with the epicenter within the city, early afternoon with major building collapse and falling masonry.

RIP the 185.

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