It's hard to believe that seven years have passed since my home city of Christchurch, New Zealand changed forever. On February 22, 2011, at precisely 12:51pm, an earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale leveled the city. I kid you not.
For many other earthquake-ridden cities around the world, it took an earthquake of much greater magnitude to cause anywhere near the same level of devastation, but even then, it's not nearly every building in the CBD that needs to be demolished. Over 70% of the buildings suffered irreparable damage during that quake, continuing to stand only just long enough so people could get out. Some buildings didn't even do that. Whole suburbs, most of East Christchurch, needed to be abandoned and bulldozed to the ground — and because if it, we have a severe housing shortage, even seven years later. But what really makes Christchurch so unique is that we were already a broken city.
On September 4, 2010 at 4:35am, six months prior, we were struck with a 7.1-magnitude earthquake. When that February quake hit, we had only just begun to get our lives back. Key landmarks in the CBD had only just reopened. The aftershocks had finally lulled into the background. We were moving on.
I had thought that the 7.1-magnitude earthquake was the scariest thing that I had ever faced, but that 7.1 didn't even compare. Even today, I struggle to think about what happened all those years ago without reliving the terror, and breaking down into tears.
Over the years, I have written many of my own memories about those horrifying days, but I have also amassed many posts written by others. To truly understand what it's like to live through something like that, with that amount of devastation around you, you really do need to just read through those old posts, all of which have links below.
You'll see stories of fear, with the heart pumping and tears flowing down the face. You'll discover stories of humor, where Christchurch residents did the best they could to make light of a difficult situation. And you'll find the hope.
Our city may be broken — and we still have the odd rock-n-roll dance number from Mother Earth — but this is our home.
Today, we remember, and pray we never forget.
(Feature Image: Citizen's War Memorial outside what remains of the Christchurch Cathedral (23 June 2017): The Christchurch Cathedral may be in ruins, but the Citizen's War Memorial still stands tall. She will see Christchurch residents stand before her again.)
Do you have a story to share?
If you have memory about the Christchurch quakes, or about living through earthquakes in general, I would love to hear from you. Or perhaps, you've written a poem or short story that you would like to share with the world. Sad, joyful, funny or heartbreaking. They are all memories, and they together form a true picture of what it's like to live through it.