Wellington is a lovely and very liveable city. When I lived there though I experienced quite a few quakes, and that was the main reason I decided to come to Auckland when I got back from overseas. Let's just hope the dormant volcano field doesn't fire up.
Yeah, on top of everything else! I'd just sat down with a cup of tea and the house started shaking and all the tchatchkes and my cup rattling. Greg looked it up and it seems to be a 3.8 not far off, under Mototapu Island.
OK, Christchurch gets more and worse than that, but we're supposed to be volcano country here. Though long may they all lie dormant.
Tomorrow (the 26th) at 9:26am the whole country is meant to do The Big Shakeout to practise for an earthquake. The slogan is "drop, cover, and hold": get down, crawl underneath a piece of furniture, cover your head, and hold on to the furniture. I won't be at work, but if I were I wouldn't be able to resist singing Duck and Cover, the 50s song by Bert the Turtle which was meant to make people think they had a chance in a nuclear war. I originally came across this scary little gem in the film The Atomic Cafe which is blackly funny and worth a watch if you come across it.
Earthquakes are easier to survive, but we don't actually have anything to go under at home, both our tables being glass-topped and a potential source of very sharp glittering daggers, our bed having wooden slats that probably aren't roof-bearing, the spare beds too low to get under, and this computer desk has shelves that would stop me getting in very far. Eh, if a Big One happens, I'll cower in a doorway and cling to the jamb, which is what I used to do in Wellington when a worrying one hit.
Our department had a champagne breakfast this morning followed an hour later by mince pies, lolly cake, chocolate brownies, and liqueur chocolates with more champagne! When I got back to my desk after that our department all had huge tinned plum puddings from our manager. I think I'll keep mine till winter. We finished at noon and not much work actually got done.
Then I came home feeling mellow and ready to relax and do as little as poss with seven library books stacked up ready to read.
So far so good.
My sister (you remember, the nutty one who has all sorts of bizarre obsessions like magic water) is going to India for two weeks to volunteer in an orphanage with five other people. No, I can't see just what they'd do to help in just two weeks, but what do I know? She wants to come up tomorrow to buy some cotton Indian clothes to wear till she can buy something there. She wants me to go shopping with her but I have several days of reading and knitting and chilling out planned and besides, it's embarrassing just being with her. I know what she'll do: tell all the shopkeepers she comes across her life story and just why she's going to India. Oy. You need a fish slice to fit a word in edgeways.
Anyway I've managed to talk her out of schlepping me along and reduced the contact to lunch out so I might escape the sister-induced migraine.
So far fairly good.
However there have been two more big earthquakes in Christchurch (probably with loads of people out shopping too) and Greg's on the phone to family about it. His mother got "thrown around a bit" but she's OK and, as ever, unwilling to leave her house in the red (demolition) zone. The latest is that there are no fatalities but some injuries. Those poor people down there; a lot of them just can't take the stress any more and are moving out. I heard a woman who won a CD on the radio this morning saying how lovely the weather was down there. And now this. :-(
There was a baby earthquake here in Auckland over an hour ago (while we were watching White Collar). Just a short sharp jolt that had Jasmin looking around suspiciously. On our geonet site it showed up as a 2.9 at 9.09pm with the epicentre 9km deep and just in the next suburb (St Heliers). We're on the Australian plate here so don't get many. I hope that's all we get.
Good night, she says hopefully.
February was the hottest on record here, so no wonder I was sweltering. It's much nicer now, but still a degree or two hotter than normal.
Anyway, here are some lighter moments from the earthquake.
A guy called Phil has the boulder which smashed through his house on sale, all proceeds to the earthquake relief fund. "Rocky will enhance your 'indoor outdoor' flow considerably, especially if you load him in through the garage roof like we did." Ahahaha, I notice that the seller allows pick-ups. It's worth taking a look at the photos (the last one made me laugh) and the comments are extremely funny; Phil has a great sense of humour and his replies are brilliant. The bidding's at $7000 last time I looked. :-D One person was worried that Rocky might not go to a good home and I was tempted to suggest he gets micro-chipped in case he strays, but I think Phil has his hands full with the comments he has already.
A pigeon that was alive under the ruins of the Cathedral has been named Barney Rubble. If he turns out to be female, he'll be renamed Betty.
We were also amused to see that a house that lost most of its roof had an attic full of very large and healthy marijuana plants and a ventilation/watering/sun system. I hope they aren't nicked for it.
[Edit] Rocky has his own facebook which has comments just as funny as the TradeMe listing.
I also love this: You know you're from Christchurch when...
I haven't heard if there are any fandom help comms, but here are three good sites where people can donate to earthquake relief.
Worldwide NZ Government Christchurch Earthquake Appeal
SPCA Earthquake Appeal (Canterbury is the province Christchurch is in)
People in NZ can also text "quake" to 933 to donate $3. It might not sound much but Vodafone has a similar scheme going for its customers to donate $5 and they've raised over 2 million.
[Edit] There is indeed a comm, help_nz. I'll post about that later today when their main auction opens.
Greg's managed to either talk to or hear about everyone in his family and they're all fine (though their houses may not be). It was as I'd thought: the lack of power and cell-phone towers were why people were hard to contact.
It's not so good for others though. I heard two buses were crushed and people are still trapped in buildings. The last I heard there are 65 confirmed dead, 80% of the city is without power and a lot of people don't have water either.
There's been another big earthquake down in Christchurch, and this one happened in the middle of the day so there are deaths and casualties.
Greg hasn't managed to contact those family who were at work. He spoke to his mother though and she's without power and water and will have to move out of her home. It's probably badly damaged anyway; her neighbour's house is off its foundations. Greg's oldest sister can't contact her daughter who started work in the city recently, but we're hoping that's due to power being out. :-(
I thought Greg's trip down to Christchurch at the end of this week would be cancelled, but apparently the office (and the hotel) are out by the airport and undamaged, and they still want him to go down. I have no idea why, but maybe they want to take their minds off things with a bout of software training.
One of the guys from the Christchurch branch told Greg today that his little boy can't keep his food down and his little girl takes her teddy everywhere. Poor kids.
Greg's sister there isn't coping very well either, sleeping in alternating shifts with her husband and making him wear a visibility vest outside. Another relative's cats are dealing with things in their own way too: one won't go outside and the other won't come in. The frequent aftershocks aren't helping at all, but they're getting weaker.
We've been watching the Christchurch earthquake coverage, and so far there have been no deaths, but two people are seriously injured. Despite this, a reporter standing outside a restaurant with its front sheared off (and the surrounding buildings looking undamaged from the outside) just said, "Carnage is not an overstatement." Um, yes. It is. Do you even know what that word means? I hope someone tells him. He obviously never learned Latin.
Greg however, noting the proportion of buildings damaged, said it seemed to be literally (and that's literally literally) decimation. [Edit] He's overstating too. It's more like 1 in 20.
So if you're hearing words like that in reports, don't believe them. There's a state of emergency just declared because there's no power and water in some areas, but though there's a lot of damage and people are in shock, things are a lot better than they might have been had it happened during the day.
We woke up to find there's been a big earthquake in Christchurch, 7.4 magnitude with aftershocks measured at 5 or so. It happened around 4am when most people were in bed so I believe there aren't any casualties, but chimneys have come down and flattened cars, the fronts of some shops have come off, road has buckled, there's no power, and people say the insides of their houses look like they've been burgled: a real mess but fairly superficial. Greg's talking to his sister at the moment and apparently his mother is OK.
And this is why there are so many wooden houses here, and brick is banned in some places like Wellington. Not Christchurch though; Greg's mother's house is brick but it's survived several quakes. Oh and it was full tide and the Avon River slopped its banks, but I doubt it got as far as her house though she lives beside it.
Greg said locals measure earthquakes by damage to the cathedral spire which has sometimes come down, sometimes just been left askew. There hasn't been any news of the spire.
[Edit] It's intact. And all of Greg's family there have now been located (some at others' houses) and are fine.