Monthly Archives: February 2011

A Good News Sandwich

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I don’t mind telling you where I was when a sharp aftershock rocked Christchurch this afternoon.  I was seated on the throne when the throne started moving rapidly from side to side. It would have been hilarious had it not been so scary!   And the reason it was sharply felt was the fact that the aftershock registered only ONE KILOMETER  below the surface.  This is terrifying!  The Sept. 4 quake was 33 kms below the surface.  The devastating Feb. 22 quake was only FIVE kms down.  Today’s aftershock was ONE kilometer down.  I don’t want to think of it getting shallower and shallower.  The shallower it is, the more death and devastation it wreaks.

You just don’t want to get caught with your pants down in earthquake-stricken Chch!   You feel so helpless, not wanting to be trapped in a place you can’t escape from.  TV’s John Campbell of Campbell Live put it very well tonight.  He said something to the effect of, “You expect the ground to be solid and depend on it to be firm and unmoving.  But for Christchurch, the land has been wildly unpredictable.  Imagine living like this for the last five months, never knowing when a violent aftershock will strike.”

Well, there’s no point focusing on the bad news because it just pulls you down!  So, how about I give you a Good News sandwich?  With Brussels Sprouts in the middle?  🙂 Okay, here goes:

GOOD NEWS

300 Australian policemen flew into Chch today (and were sworn in as NZ police) to boost our police  numbers because a full THIRD of our Chch police force has been badly hit with personal tragedies: damaged houses, personal injury, loss of life, personal losses.

Wedding bells pealed for rescued accountant, Emma Howard, who married her fiance, Chris Greenslade, today at the Christ the King Catholic Church in Burnside.  Emma didn’t even think she’d live to see her wedding day as she was trapped  for a terrifying 6½ hours in the pancaked Pyne Gould building last Tuesday.   Here’s her lovely story: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/canterbury-earthquake/4704521/Wedding-nuptials-go-ahead

Folks are helping each other all around the city.  A massive student army is helping to shovel silt off people’s roads and properties. People are baking goods in Wellington and sending them down here to Chch.  A couple commandeered their Dad’s ice-cream truck and drove around the city offering free hot drinks and treats to rescue and construction workers.  Christchurch even has a new super loo hero who helps folks dig long drops on their properties.  He then tops the hole with a box and affixes a toilet seat to it.  It’s so lovely to see people enjoying the use of their personal outdoor loo, complete with privacy.  Check it out here: http://www.scoop.co.nz/multimedia/tv/national/46974.html

All of this is Good News in light of the wider-ranging…

BAD NEWS (Here’s the Brussels Sprouts filling.  You can tell I can’t stand B.S.!!!)

Death toll is now 113 and rising.  The youngest victims were a nine-month old and five-month old babies. Heartbreaking. 😦

Several Japanese students from Toyama Foreign Language School arrived last week for a four week stint at King’s English School.  One week into their stay, the English School collapsed in the quake. Several students perished, although, fortunately, a number were able to escape along with their accompanying teachers.

13 Filipino nurses were studying  in the same language school, hoping to improve their English before starting work here.  Not one of them survived.

Some of the deceased had only just started working in their companies for a week or a few days!

It is believed that most of the dead in Christchurch Cathedral are foreign tourists.

The city looks like a war zone with buildings pulverized, and most of the iconic landmarks gone.

So before I depress you (and me) further, let’s cap this sandwich with…

MORE GOOD NEWS

There have been so many stories of miracle escapes from people trapped in cars that were so totaled you could not imagine anyone surviving; people sinking chest-deep into unseen mud holes and managing to get free; people trapped in buildings for several days and managing to survive; people who left their offices for lunch and got back late, thereby missing being trapped inside; builders leaving a building site for lunch five minutes before the quake demolished the building!

Aid keeps flowing in from all over the world.  Japan, which lost several foreign nationals in the quake, not only sent their Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team to help but also donated half a million US dollars to the NZ Red Cross earthquake appeal.  Honto ni, domo arigato gozaimashita!

For the first time in NZ, Army engineers have set up a desalination plant in Christchurch.  It  can produce 2000 litres of fresh water per hour for those in need.  The portable equipment, which turns salt water (from the Pacific Ocean) into fresh water, is based in New Brighton beach, and members of the public started receiving water from it this morning.  It is such a blessing because the residents on the Eastern side of town still have no water, power, or sewage facilities!  Many have been using Portaloos since the Sept. 4 quake last year!

THANK YOU

As an ordinary citizen, I would like to thank all of the Urban Search and Rescue teams that have flown in from all over the world to help our people.  These teams are from the United States, U.K., Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and Australia.  Thank you, too, to all those who are giving blood, financial, medical, and other aid.  And lastly, thank you for all the kind thoughts and the faithful prayers sent up for us here in Christchurch.  Your prayers are sustaining us and, who knows?  Perhaps it is because of your prayers that we are seeing so many miracles!!!  So, please keep on keeping on.  We certainly will! 🙂

Shaken AND Stirred

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It’s summer, yet I’ve got a polar fleece jacket on.  I feel so cold.   The images on telly have been bloodcurdling.  So much devastation in our usually peaceful, placid city.  75 confirmed dead.  300 missing.  Heritage buildings, shops, buses, streets, people all crushed by the hammer-fisted bow of nature that was the 6.3 magnitude quake.

Yesterday, at 11:30 a.m., Charis and I left the Women’s Centre  on Manchester Street and headed for our car.  Normally, we hang around and shop or have lunch at a local Food Court.  But,  I said to Charis, “I don’t feel like staying in town today. I want to get out. ” I was meeting a friend for lunch and, just the day before, changed my mind about meeting her in the city centre.  I asked if we could meet at McCafe in Merivale, just 2 minutes walk to the Nurse Maude Hospice where her 2 pm training would take place.  I dropped Charis off at Iain’s workplace on Manchester, and drove out to a local suburb.

Trish and I had just finished our lunch and were nursing our coffees, when the ground started swaying.  It began gradually…gently enough for us not to panic.   It was like that gradual cruise into position that you experience when you ride the Space Mountain roller coaster at Disney World.  It starts off slow and even, and then suddenly it plummets and your stomach is left somewhere in mid-air.  It felt like an angry giant violently shaking a dish of water with us in it.  I immediately crawled under the table and called out to the Lord to save us.  The restaurant was full and everyone was screaming.

I was praying desperately for Iain and Charis who were both still in town, on badly-hit Manchester Street.  Iain works beside a large window, and I was terrified that both he and Charis would be harmed if the glass shattered.  Plus, Charis was supposed to catch the bus home after lunch.  I heard that two buses had been crushed by fallen debris/masonry.  I was petrified and started to cry.  I felt so helpless!  Praise God I was able to reach Iain by cellphone.  He reassured me that they were well, although his building had been badly damaged.  The second-storey ceiling had caved in; huge glass doors had been shattered; and, the parking lot had buckled.  He didn’t even bother to hang around to get his things.  He  just grabbed Charis and they headed out immediately!

Meanwhile, after everyone was escorted out of McCafe, Trish and I walked to Nurse Maude hospice to find out if her training course was still on.  On the short walk there, we spied a fallen chimney that had toppled into someone’s bedroom.  The ceiling and pink batts jutted like broken limbs into the room.  Water and mud (silt) started oozing out of the ground, creating immediate flooding.  When we got to the hospice, a man, obviously shaken, just stepped out of the old McDougall home which was the hospice office.  As we stood talking with him, a violent aftershock occurred and bits of plaster started to shower down behind him.  Suddenly there were shouts of “Nurse! Nurse!”  Trish took off running, declaring herself a nurse.  A person had collapsed, hitting his head on the pavement, his neck at an awkward angle.  He was bleeding and in need of urgent assistance.

Car and house alarms burst into action.  Police cars, with alarms blaring, zinged into town.  The sudden aftershock caused a motor accident a few metres away from us.  I thought, “It’s time to go home”.  Throughout this time, though, I had an unearthly sense of peace and reassurance that our home was safe.  I just kept on praying for my family.

Iain and Charis met up with me at McCafe’s car park, and we convoyed home.  A steady trail of cars snaked along the roads…parents desperate to collect their children from school…families anxious for loved ones.  It was just after 1 pm. Waiting to swing into the traffic, my car started shaking from side to side.  It’s very hard to keep your concentration when you are so terrified, and you need to make sure you drive carefully so as not to cause an accident or be part of one.  I felt like Jesus was telling me, “Keep your eyes on me, Cori.  Keep your eyes on Me.”

We finally got home and were grateful that all of the building and bracing work we got done in the house after the Sept. 4 earthquake held up.   Thank God!!!  Everyone here jokes that Christchurch is so flat.  It sits on a plain, therefore,  hillside locations are highly prized for their views and are consequently very expensive.  But today, huge boulders tumbled down from a cliff  in Sumner and crashed down to the road.  Roads all around the city buckled, and traveling through them, is like entering the nursey song: The wheels on the bus go up and down,up and down, up and down.  See what I mean here: http://www.watoday.com.au/photogallery/world/earthquake-strikes-christchurch/20110222-1b3a5.html?selectedImage=0  Some cracks are big enough to for cars and vans to fall through.  This site has pretty comprehensive photos: http://www.watoday.com.au/photogallery/world/earthquake-strikes-christchurch/20110222-1b3a5.html?selectedImage=0

We thank God that we have water and power in our part of the city, but the Eastern suburbs and much of the central city is going without.  Please pray for the survivors who are still trapped in fallen buildings.  Please pray for the search and rescue teams who have toiled all night in the rain, and throughout all the aftershocks which continue to wreak havoc on already unstable buildings.  Our city is receiving help from Search and Rescue teams from the USA, UK, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan.  God BLESS them!  The army is helping St. John’s Ambulance crew who can’t get through the liquefaction-stricken streets.  (Parts of Chch are built on a swamp and some suburbs are built on reclaimed land.  Find out more about liquefaction here. : http://www.ce.washington.edu/~liquefaction/html/what/what1.html)

This earthquake felt far worse than the 7.1 magnitude quake last September.  It was because it was at a depth of only 5 kms. with the epicentre only 20 minutes away from the city centre.  It is eerily quiet today, Wednesday.  The aftershocks keep us in a nerve-wracking state of hyper-vigilance.  No one can relax.  Even as we watch the news stories unfold on TV, I can feel the earth rumbling beneath my slippers.  It feels like a belly rumbling with hunger or like water on the boil.  We dive under the dining table at the first tremor.  Everyone’s nerves are shattered because no one knows when the other shoe will drop, and when another HUGE destructive fist will descend on the city.  People can’t  sleep in nervous anticipation.  I didn’t even want to get into my jammies last night in case we needed to make a fast escape.  We all prayed and worked out an escape plan, arranging to have our important papers close by in case we need to flee.

I cannot help but thank God for His protection. Had I met up with Trish in the city centre, we would definitely have been in the midst of the devastation.  The parking garage I would have parked in looked like this after the quake: http://www.watoday.com.au/photogallery/world/earthquake-strikes-christchurch/20110222-1b3a5.html?selectedImage=0   I thank God that Iain and Charis were not harmed and that they were able to get out of devastated Manchester Street, even if it meant plowing through floods of silt in crawling traffic.

The authorities are urging people to stay home, so we can’t even volunteer to help out at a rescue centre until they say so.  They don’t want a lot of cars on the road or people rubber-necking, I think.

Please continue to pray for the people of Christchurch, especially for those who are trapped in fallen buildings, those who are working to rescue them, and those who are grieving the loss of loved ones and/or property.  Now, and at the end of the day, we are all in God’s hands and we thank God that when the day comes that we close our eyes here, we will open them again in Heaven, thanks to the loving, generous, saving work of Jesus.  To Him be all praise!