4th September 2010 quake memories

So Friday 3rd September 2010 was just another normal Friday at work. The Canterbury rugby team played Bay of Plenty that night. Kick off was 7:35pm, so I just went straight out after work, meeting up with a few others in a local pub.  Canterbury won the game 28-9,  so we had a few drinks in the bar at the ground after the game, it wasn’t a big night and I think I got home about 11pm ish.

Anyway, I woke up about 4:30pm – which is unusual for me, as I normally sleep right through the night. I’m not quite sure why I woke up, but I remember laying and being wide awake.

A few minutes later I remember hearing the wardrobes door rattle. I consider this sound my earthquake monitor. Our wardrobe doors are free-hanging and so any vibration will cause then to rattle. Normally, this sound is nothing to be concerned about at all – as relative minor shakes happen quite often. But the this time was different, the gentle rattle lated for about 2 seconds and then all of a sudden got louder and louder and louder. The shaking also got progressively more violent.

I was pretty much out of bed instantly and running towards my son Callum’s bedroom. That journey would normally take me about 2 seconds – but that morning it would take a little longer.

My wife, Suzanne, had jumped out of bed instantly as well. We both got to our bedroom door in about a second. By that stage the shaking was very violent and all lights had gone out – even the street lights outside. The house was in complete blackness. We supported each other, both attempting to get out of the door. All we needed to do was get around the corner and into the next room where Callum was asleep in his cot. The trouble was we were being flung around far too much.

We eventually got to Callum after about 15 seconds. Suzanne picked him up – he was actually still asleep. He soon woke up though.

I remember when we left the room we both went different ways. The shaking was still going on and the house was in darkness.

The noise was unbelievable. It sounded like a fright train coming right through the house.

I would have assumed that I would have know my way around the house in the total darkness – but as it turned out I did not. I found my way back into our bedroom and initially thought that I was in the lounge. Perhaps it was a combination of the shaking, the noise, the darkness and the fact that I’d been out the night before :)

Anyway, the shaking eventually stopped – i had lasted for about 1 minute. I managed yo open the curtains and let a little bit of moonlight into the room. That was enough for me to get my bearings and meet up with Suzanne and Callum again – who were standing under the door way near the lounge – apparently that is the place to stand in an earthquake as it’s a strong part of the house.

After I had go over the initial shock of the event and made sure everybody was alright, I grabbed my iphone. Fortunately, I was still able to send and receive text messages and I was still attached to the 3G data network. I checked Facebook. People had already been posting updates and I soon found out that we had just had a 7+ magnitude earthquake.

As soon as it got light, we took a look outside and seen a lot of silt in the back patio area – I know now that this silt is called liquefaction - its basically the soil from below turning into a liquid like substance. It is very heavy to shovel when wet, and when it is dry it is very fine and blows away easily in the wind – and guess what, Canterbury can have some very strong winds.

We went outside and talked to the neighbours That’s one of the good things about natural disasters – you’ll get to know people really quickly, really well :)

We noticed that there were a lot of cars leaving the area – we later found out that they were concerned about the threat of Tsunami. e live about 10minutes walk from the South Pacific ocean, and I have to be honest and say that I Tsunami had not even entered my head. Fortunately, the earthquake epicenter was inland and so these concerns were ungrounded.

We drove down to the in-laws. We’d heard that they still had power. The roads were all flooded and cracked. I was extremely glad we had a four wheel drive. We were able to watch the TV when we got there and watch the whole days events unfold. I think the authorities handled the whole thing pretty well.

We had a BBQ that morning, which was pretty much what the whole of Christchurch had also.

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About Martin Catherall

Martin Catherall is Senior SQL consultant at SQL Down Under, based in Melbourne, Australia. Martin is also a Microsoft Data Platform MVP and Regional Mentor (RM) for the Professional Association for SQL Server. Prior to relocating to Australia he was extremely active in the Christchurch, New Zealand data community - founding the local SQL Server user group and organizing SQL Saturday Christchurch - which later became SQL Saturday South Island. He likes learning interesting stuff about processing and storing data and passing on his knowledge. In his spare time he likes to learn guitar and hang out with his two young sons Callum Glen and Robert Michael.