Wednesday, 21 August 2013

When life shakes you up.... through a 6.6 magnitude EARTHQUAKE!

Hi Everybody,

No pictures, no funny tales, and no witty remarks. I just want to share a brief snap shot of what went through my mind last Friday at 2:31pm, when Wellington was struck by a 6.6 magnitude earthquake, which shook the city to it's core.

2:30pm, Friday 16th August, and everything was perfectly normal, as I'm sat at my desk writing notes, with one eye on the clock due to having a flight to Auckland at 7:55pm.  

2:31pm - Stood at my desk speaking with 2 colleagues, looking out at a sunny day and the construction site just 15m away, which has a large crane about 10 floors above our building. A slow rumble can be felt under our feet. My colleagues both give me that look of 'can you feel this shake'. without saying a word, we all acknowledge each other's look. 5 seconds go by, and the rumble becomes a shake. One colleague moves towards her desk. 3 more seconds go by, the shake continues, and I follow my colleagues and get underneath my desk. 3 more seconds go by, and the shake becomes a sway - as our building literally moves from side to side. I can see the look on one colleague's face, which has a very fearful look. I hear something fall over in the office. 3 more seconds go by, and the swaying stops, and everything goes quiet for a few seconds. 

The ground is steady again, and a few shouts are heard around the office. Within 30 seconds, most people from the surrounding offices have come into the main office, to share their experience. The workmen on the building site opposite, can be heard 'whooping' and laughing about how they swayed, as they now wait for a safety inspection. A doctor is telling me about how a client dived under the doctor's desk without delay, leaving the doctor stood in his room wondering what to do. 

People start leaving buildings, and despite some further rumbles, we watch the city start to panic.  Roads start to fill, with cars as people try and get to their families, or have been told to leave their place of work, schools or buildings. The roads are busy, and the car parking buildings have big ques forming - (nobody wants their car crushed in a car park). There is only one way out of Wellington City, so traffic is quickly at a stand still. 

Whilst some colleagues leave to attend to their families, most of us stay in work, as there is no point trying to leave the city, and calls from our clients start to come in. Another rumble, becomes another shake, as a 5.7 after shock has a few of us back under our desks. 

30 minutes after the original quake, we have had at lest 4 after shocks that could be felt clearly. We have also decided that as we'll be staying in work, tea and cakes are required to calm the nerves and help us focus on work. Calls are made to the colleagues who have been off base, as more tales of shaking building, bouncing parked cars, and swaying pavements are shared. 2 more aftershocks are felt.

5:00pm, I finally leave work, walking home, trying to focus on getting to the airport. I have heard that the runway has been checked out, and planes are still arriving and departing from Wellington. I get home to find no noticeable damage. I am just praying there won't be a big shake when we're on the runway taking off. As I pack a few clothes into my bag, another 5.+ aftershock shakes the apartment for 2-3 seconds. It's enough to make me thin I'm glad I'm leaving Wellington for the weekend!  

It's now Wednesday, and my mind continues to play tricks on me. I haven't felt any major shakes since Sunday, but have felt some small tremors. The big problem I have is that I now constantly feel as though the ground moves - it's like that 'sea legs' feeling when you first get off a boat. I know the feeling is in my head, as I still experience the sensation even when I'm sat down. 

To say this experience has shaken me up is an understatement - here's to a more 'stable' future! 

Regards from New Zealand

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