Mel and I worked in the same store in Christchurch. I last saw Mel in Japan four years ago, when we walked around Shinto and Buddhist temples in Kamakura. (A lot of my connections to Christchurch are also connections to Japan.) She now lives in Christchurch again and has been a regular participant in the volunteer silt-shovelling that follows each bad aftershock.
I was meant to be in High Street around the time of the quake to tutor a Japanese student but ended up changing my plans at the last minute to travel to Hanmer to see a friend from overseas. So I wasn’t in the thick of it as such, instead felt the quake while I was driving around Amberley somewhere.
What was a negative emotion you felt on Feb 22?
I felt a mixture of shock and fear. My friend and I arrived in Hanmer at her family’s bach and got told by her parents (who happened to be there for time out) that there’d been a major earthquake in Christchurch. I also felt extremely worried when I finally managed to speak to my mum, dad and sister on the phone. In the aftermath, I felt scared and confused due to various things, most notably lack of running water, electricity, the presence of the army and police, continual aftershocks, liquefaction in the flat I was living in and the constant sounds of sirens and news helicopters.
What about a positive emotion on that day, or over the course of the following week?
The only positive emotion on that day was gratitude for the fact that I’d changed my tutoring plans at the last minute and may have missed the unthinkable (although, who knows?) and that my friend’s parents let me stay the night at their bach as it was meant to be a day trip only. During the course of the week afterwards, I felt touched at the amount of caring and attention shown towards the people of Christchurch.