Can you remember how you found out?
I was on a job when the customer got a phone call to say that there had been “another big quake” in Christchurch. I remember not flinching much at the time as we had “survived” one already. The news of aftershocks had been an almost daily occurrence for months and you end up quite desensitised.
Customers weren’t so calm. Their adult daughter worked in central Christchurch – smack bang in the middle of what would eventually be called “The Red Zone”.
And, of course, the phone network was completely overloaded.
The television went on and we sat aghast looking at the aftermath, while trying to contact various people. Over time, we got enough messages through and back to know that at least our friends and family were OK.
It was a strange mixture of emotions. Me, calm, because all the people I knew in Christchurch were fine. Customers were on edge. 30 minutes had passed and still we hadn’t been able to get word about her daughter. We watched TV coverage of the central Christchurch CBD with collapsed buildings just a few streets away from where she worked in a multi-story building.
I recall the deep disgust I felt for some reporters on TV who were unable to hide their visceral delight at being able to report on such a big story. The occasion called for gravitas, but in their lives, especially those who were patched live over the world to the BBC and CNN, they were unable to suppress their excitement and naked joy.
Not long after we managed to contact someone who had heard of the daughter post-quake, and knew she was alright. Traffic was gridlocked and comms were out. It would be a few hours still before they could actually talk to each other for the first time. Read more »