SLIDER

Yesterday

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
It was quite the day. When the first earthquake hit at 1pm, I was in the laundry, putting another load of washing on. The dryer was going, so I didn't hear the rumble. But I stumbled on my feet as I walked out into the hallway, realising at the same time that the house was rocking. So many things happen in those few seconds that your senses go into overload. Looking back on it moments later you realize that your entire being is viewing the quake using all five of the senses, so you remember it through each one.


I actually didn't think the 5.5 was that bad - partly because I was in the laundry and missed the first part of it. So I phoned Robin at work to check he was ok, and then I just carried on with my ironing and watching Our Mutual Friend while doing it. Alice slept on. The phone rang an hour later and it was Theodore's teacher to tell me that the school had decided to close and the children were being collected.

A quick mental check of the neighbourhood told me that all available friends were either out, at work or collecting their own children from other schools. So I woke Alice (I hate doing that) and drove down to the school. They were all out in the playground. Nobody seemed particularly worried. I had a few words with the teachers (they're all so nice). Meredith had to go back into her classroom to get her backpack with me. We saw the sports cupboard doors had burst open and all the gym equipment lying in a mess on the floor. Hugh said a boy had fallen off the playground equipment during the quake and hurt himself. They were all outside on their lunch break when it happened.

The next big one - the 6.0 happened as we reached the gates of the school. It was my first time experiencing a quake outside of my own home. We were walking towards the gates, Theodore lagging behind. I remember turning to check he was following me and not getting distracted with his friends (he was begging me to take home half the children in his class - it took some explaining to tell him if I did that their mothers would worry), when I remember hearing a rushing sound, like a train in the distance, or like a freak gust of wind blowing. Only there was no wind. It was a still, sunny, warm winter's day. It's amazing how long it takes the mind to click in to what is going on. Hearing that noise, turning quickly to see children running, screaming into the grassy field away from the buildings and trees. Seeing Theodore run towards the field, crouching with his arms over the back of his head. Meredith told me later I gripped her shoulder so hard it hurt. And I remember Hugh saying, "it's another one."

Then I was transfixed - in those few seconds - on the 100 year old oak trees waving above my head. You might think it looked like wind blowing through their branches but it wasn't like that at all. The trees were moving from the ground upwards, and the way they moved was so completely unnatural that I couldn't focus on anything else.

I remember my feet feeling unsure on the ground. And the pavement moving underneath my heeled boots, and having to take a few steps to steady myself and Alice, whom I was carrying.

I think I said, "it's ok, it's ok. Just stay here with me," to the kids over and over.

Then it stopped. We walked to the car and I suddenly remembered my husband in his four-storied office building in the city. I found my cellphone, dialed and got no dialtone on the other end. Try again. Again. Pulled out to drive home. We have a new law here that you can't phone while driving, so I gave the phone to Hugh and got him to call. Nothing. Halfway home I took the phone off him and dialed myself.

Extenuating circumstances.

Robin finally answered - three words. "I'm on my way home."
"Now? Right now?"
"Yes."

Only then could I relax. Everyone in my immediate family was accounted for and safe.
The children are home from school today. Robin had to go back to work, but went in late. I'm still not happy about him having to go back there. I want him to find a job out here.

6 comments :

Cottage Tails said...

I feel very teary reading this. When we heard the news I thought of you & Lee-anne another blogger.
Thanks for updating as I do think of you - haven't got the right words but sending you a HUGE HUG

Love Leanne

Rebekah S. said...

I was sad to hear it happened twice. My other friend Viv is pregnant and she's just devastated. It was hard enough with the first one and she goes into detail about the loss of regular items such as flushing a toilet. I think the worst for her is that the hospital she planned to birth in is wrecked and they have another one but that one is limited with space and will send the women to another facility once they birth. She's in quite the panic and very depressed right now. It's SO hard to be so far away from you all. I actually want to peak in and make sure everything is alright with you. I'm grateful I can just come to the blog and your here. I can't imagine the fear that must have come from being in the middle of the school area watching it all unfold again with kids nearby. I'm so glad to hear your husband is safe and praying no more crazy weather or quakes happen so everyone can finally work on rebuilding lives and workplaces. ((BIG HUGS)) to you my dear friend!

Anonymous said...

I thought of you and your family when I heard the news yesterday, so glad that you are all ok. Wishing it would all just stop, love Jackie

Heather L. said...

Rachel I am so sorry!!! I'm sure this is beginning to feel a bit nightmarish and harder to get over each time. I haven't heard the news over here yet, but haven't sat down to read/watch any. I'm sure you are all feeling unsettled. Will be praying for you.

Shearer's Girl said...

I thought of you when I heard the news. I'm glad you are all safe. This is a hair raising account, so immediate.

Sandy Addison said...

Rach I am feeling for you guys through all this. It must be frustrating not knowing when the tremors are going to stop. you are in my thoughts and prayers

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