Shaken AND Stirred

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!

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10 thoughts on “Shaken AND Stirred

  1. Your email that you were all safe made me cry (happy tears) & your post here nearly finished me off!
    Thanking God you are all safe and well.
    Continuing to pray for the people in Chch.

    1. Coree, so relieved to hear that you and your family are all AOK. Very thankful for your God-glorifying blog, and for your reminder to continue praying for those who are still trapped under the rubble. Will continue to pray. xo

  2. Coree, Iain’s family in Aus are so relieved to hear you’re all OK. If you need a break we have spare beds here that don’t shake. (Melbourne only tends to get teeny tiny, shakes once in a blue moon – although we’ve been doing good floods lately!

    1. Dearest Shirley and Clive, your kindness and generosity made me cry. Thank you so much for thinking of us and for your kind and generous offer. We will hang in here for as long as we can, but if it all gets too much, we might just take you up on your kind offer. God bless you!

  3. When I heard about the earthquake in Christchurch, the first person I thought about was Coree, a friend from my childhood in Manila, who lives in New Zealand. I didn’t have an e-mail address and did a google search. After many attempts, I came across this site. I hope this is you, which means you and your family are safe. I am thinking and praying for you and your city.

    1. Hello, Bea! Yes, it’s me! I am astounded that you found me! Thanks for persevering! 🙂 Thank you, too, for your kind thoughts and prayers! Our whole city needs it. Several friends have lost their homes and some have lost friends and family members. It’s such a sad day for Christchurch. And the only things that are keeping us afloat, I believe, are the kindness and generosity of people here and overseas, and the prayers of those who care and who are mightily interceding for our poor ravaged city and its people. Please keep praying for us and our city. Would love to catch up when things settle down and my nerves are less frayed than they are now. Thanks, Bea!

  4. Dear Coree:
    Your mother-in-law passed your blog update on to me, and I want you to know that I have been praying for you all since I first heard of the quake. I called Nora (kind of late- I forgot to check the clock) to see if she’d heard from you. She said it had taken a couple of hours, but that she spoke with you all and that the three of you were okay.

    I showed some pictures of the devastation to my kids and read your blog entry aloud. They were very concerned for you, and are also praying.

    Please give Charis a big hug from us.

    I’m kind of thinking this might be a REAL GOOD time to visit the States, yes? 🙂 If Nora and my dad don’t have room for you all, we could certainly make room!! (And Emily is dying to meet Charis!)

    Love to you all!
    Maellen

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