There’s nothing quite like experiencing a 6.5-magnitude earthquake while in the bath.
For the last two and a half days an accelerating earthquake cluster has been bothering us in Wellington, most epicentres about 25km off Seddon in the Marlborough Sounds just to our South. Before that, I’ve only felt three or four tiny blips in the nine months I’ve been living in the capital, so this is UNUSUAL.
9.05am Friday, the earth got me out of bed with a 5.3 rumble, and then a 4.5 later in the afternoon. The world’s biggest alarm clock went off again this morning from 7-7.30am with a series of shakes, one of them 5.3 and lasting about 20 seconds. On a Sunday morning. I got no further than blearily sitting up – you can count on a birthday hangover to blunt your sense of urgency.
But this evening’s 6.5 – that was something else. I lived in quake-hammered Christchurch for five months last year and this was ten times worse than the worst Chch tremor I ever felt there. It swished me around the bath tub forwards, backwards, left, right and around, repeatedly and in a random order. My naked panic was compounded by our landlord bashing on the door and yelling: “SARAH! It might pay off to run up the hill!”. JESUS. There’s nothing like the risk of impending tsunami to get a girl dressed quickly.
He rang me a few minutes later, from a hilltop, to say the ocean looked pretty chilled out and there was probably no reason to dash, but my God have I got an emergency bag packed and ready to go! Blanket, jumpers, toiletries, food, water, torch, med kit, high vis (classic Christchurch).
My poor colleagues who were working at the Dominion Post building in the centre of the city tonight reportedly dived under their desks; there are photos of broken bits of concrete in the streets and calamitous supermarket aisles online. So, this is not really bad. There’s no extreme cause for worry and alarm. And it’s nothing like what Christchurch has been through. But it’s still pretty scary to be home alone tonight!
One friend in the city, whose basement apartment has serious floor damage, reports: “Cracks at waterfront and Reading cinema. Windows broken at Quest hotel. Burst water main at apartment complext near Fast Eddies. Off License a mess.”