The Day The Earth Shook, Part Two

Continued from The Day The Earth Shook, Part One.

The days following the September earthquake were a mixed bag for everyone involved.  For some, it was clean up time.  Roads and houses were damaged with cracks, silt and fallen debris and belongings, others could continue on with life as normal, the constant aftershocks the only reminder that anything out of the ordinary had been experienced.  Some people had to wait a few days before the power or water came back on, others never lost these facilities.  

Reactions to the aftershocks were also mixed.  A lot of people would pause while they were happening, then continue on as if nothing had happened.  Other reactions included panic and anxiety, crying, frustration and annoyance.  After the larger aftershocks Facebook could be relied upon to be full of status updates remarking on the aftershock; ‘That was a biggie’, ‘Yep… Mother Nature is awake’ and ‘I am so over these aftershocks!’ were common status updates in the months following.  My personal favourite was from my brother after a particularly violent aftershock, ‘insert generic earthquake status here’.  Part of the reason I liked this one so much was because on that particular day, it was the only earthquake related status I saw!

The apartment I was living in was not affected much.  Almost nothing fell over, we didn’t lose power or water and the houses around us were the same.  I personally was more worried about my job.  I had only worked there for a week as a temp and I knew that the area of town that it was in had been hit pretty hard.  One of the first things I did after the initial earthquake (at a reasonable hour of course), was get in touch with my boss to offer any assistance that might be needed.  I had no idea what the situation was, all I knew is that if possible, I wanted to keep my job working in the office of a distribution warehouse.

Luckily for me, I was able to.  My boss got in contact with me a few hours later to let me know what was going on.  Unfortunately, all of the racking and stock on one side of the warehouse had fallen over.  He explained to me that a clean up plan was being put in place and that in the interim I would not be needed, but that they would pay me for any days I ended up having off.  I was relieved and incredibly grateful and as it turned out, they needed me on the third day.

I got to work on the third morning, unsure what to expect and was promptly handed a hard hat as a safety precaution.  I was shown the damage briefly before being set to work helping out and it was extensive.  Everything that had fallen over was alcohol.  You could smell it halfway up the road, a pungent mixture of beer and wine.  After the first day I woke up with a hangover from the fumes alone and I wasn’t the only one.  I started wearing a mask after that until all the stock had been cleared by diggers driving in and out of the warehouse.


After a couple of weeks my workplace was back up and running and so were a lot of others.  Some roads in the city were blocked off due to buildings that were damaged with the potential to crumble further with each shake, some were blocked off with damage to the roads themselves.  Traffic was heavier than usual for a few weeks as people got used to taking new routes to work, but for the majority of the city, life went back to normal pretty quickly considering.

The only real difference to pre earthquake life was that you couldn’t really have a conversation without the subject of September 4th coming up.  Everyone had a story and most people wanted to share it.  There were a lot of interesting coincidence stories also, for me, the fact that it was the first Friday night/Saturday morning that I wasn’t out drinking in a really long time and that I was actually at home, where I was ‘safe’; my mother had purchased new batteries for her torch the day before, something she had been meaning to do for months and a good thing to as their power was out for a while; and an old flatmate of mine who had cleaned out her garage the day before which was lucky as the entire floor got flooded moments after the quake are some of the coincidences I remember hearing about amonst many many others. Of course there were plenty of people who got sick of talking about the earthquake after a while but with large aftershocks shutting the city down again on Boxing Day, it was little wonder that it was a hot topic for months on end, even after all the excitement had seemed to die down.

Smiles and Sunshine


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