This is the story of John and Katherine, Greens in Christchurch.
For those of us not living in the aftermath, here is a snapshot of the upheaval affecting thousands and thousands of residents. Their homes are destroyed, their futures are uncertain.
Beyond the tragedy of the killed, the missing and the injured. There are these stories of dislocation….thousands and thousands of them.
We are alive, safe and well.
When the quake happened, we were both in the inner city at a meeting on the top floor of a 5-storey building. We got out very fast, and walked home with thousands of others, passing heaps of rubble and knowing there were people under them.
Police just wanted everybody out, so the emergency services could get to work. Our home is significantly damaged but is holding together. We put plywood over the broken windows, tarpaulins over the damaged exterior walls and generally tidied up a bit. We had cleaning water from a neighbour’s swimming pool that stayed intact.
We had lost power, water and of course did not use the sewer - we dug a hole in the garden. We barbecued the chops in the fridge and cooked potatoes and frozen beans on the camping stove after fighting our way into the kitchen.
We took away our critical stuff and a few treasures – papers, photos etc., to my brother’s place the other side of town, where damage was minimal.
Our two sons Ben and William were marvellous, along with John’s brother Jeremy and sister-in-law, June. Ben arrived on Wednesday morning from Arthurs Pass with drinking water, more fuel for our camping stove fuel and groceries from Darfield. And June and Jeremy made their way across town in time for lunch.
William, who is a structural engineer, surveyed the house and locality and called a family conference with bad news, declaring it unsafe to stay. Our house is very well founded and solid, but the ground and houses uphill from us are not, and there is a real risk of landslip.
So we vacated the house, spent a couple of days with my brother, then went with William to stay a few days with him and his family in Wellington.
Overall, we consider ourselves very fortunate, relative to thousands of others in the city. Yes, our house of 40 years is possibly finished, along with a lot of stuff accumulated over 47 years together, but we can manage without them. Right now we’re waiting for geotechnical information to let us know how our area has been assessed, and what is the prognostication for the future of the house.
Hang in there John and Katherine…and to the many of thousands of Cantabrians like you, hang in there.