The week that was….reassessing things and SPRING has arrived

It’s been a week since our big earthquake and Roger has been home for much of it but returned to work yesterday and is working the weekend to catch up. Most of this week has been spent cleaning, firstly picking up all the broken stuff then keeping busy cleaning walls – you have no idea how grubby they are until everything is taken off them!!

Damage: Alot of broken china and glassware. I will NEVER collect old china again – the sound of it smashing all around you (as you are shaking terrified under a computer desk wondering if your whole house is coming down!) is awful. So, this is some of it waiting for insurance assessors to check it off. I had taken much of it down weeks ago with other quakes but had put some back 2 days prior to this, 5 weeks of living with stuff all around the floors seemed long enough. I did not expect a cabinet to fall on the nicer things I had left on the floor.

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This box in the front holds a very large china elephant my son gave me for my birthday when he was 18, 18 years ago. I was really upset to have this broken 😦

Our hot water cylinder sprung a leak so that needed replacing, we lost power downstairs so that needed fixing and our house has developed cracks all through like this:

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All in all our house did extremely well and I am grateful for that as others have lost their homes, many we know personally have not come out of this nearly as well…alot of sadness and stress in our wee community.

When we bought this house 7 years ago we bought it because it was cheap and had alot of potential. We live in two rooms of it really, most of the doors stay shut as rooms aren’t used. This week we camped in the lounge as the bedrooms are 2 stories up (too high off the ground for me in quakes) and we have felt really comfortable living in a smaller area SO, we have decided to put a small kitchen and bathroom (rooms are there just not fitted out) downstairs, live down there and rent the top out. This was our original idea when we moved here. It opens out into the garden and is pretty, has a lounge, one bedroom and another small one up a flight of steps.

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Spring has arrived in the garden 🙂

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Broccoli plants that were decimated by chooks and pruned off at ground level have recovered and the glasshouse is producing.

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The asparagus bed is shooting up spears, tomatoes are sprouting in seed trays and potatoes are just about to go in, the berries are all getting fresh new leaves on and the herbs are all taking off again. The strawberries are all weeded for the start of the new season and hubby is trying to build a rotary hoe out of parts picked up at different times.

The seasons come and go, Mother Nature can certainly create her havoc but winter is always followed by spring! And some things always stay the same, especially when they are made from wood or stone!!

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Also….we have found a market for vegetables, fruit etc that we do not need for ourselves. An Indian gentleman  and his extended family /community  wish to buy from us. He asked last year and we didn’t have enough but will do it this year 🙂

Home, after an earthquake today

Another big quake hit this afternoon 5 km from home – 6.6 and lots of aftershocks. Luckily no structural damage we can see yet, except the fireplace is not safe to use.

This, just a couple of rooms.

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I was home on my own and Roger arrived 30 minutes later. a neighbour came to check on me and took me to their place then we spent 2 hours on the front lawn, it felt safer. Two power poles needed work in the street and power was back on in 3.5 hours, those are brave men who climb lamp posts during earthquakes so others can have their power back!!

Not fun.

This photo shows the last 1000 (yep, thousand) earthquakes in the past month or so in our area 5 – 15 km from here

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Our earthquakes – a learning experience!

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So this has been our lives this past 5 days starting with a 5.7 earthquake last Friday morning. This chart shows what has been happening out at sea 15 – 25 kms away from our home (we are just 5 mins drive inland at the top of the South Island) The biggest was 6.5 though I have seen it charted as 6.7 – 6.9.

Roger and I have often discussed how we would do in an emergency, we’d be prepared, right? Wrong!! In some ways better than some, in many ways nothing prepares you for reality but the reality of being unprepared in lots of ways you hadn’t considered (and in the event it turned out to be worse than this recent activity) Our quakes have not been nearly as bad as our Christchurch ones of 3 years ago and many there are still in substandard housing not sorted by insurance companies, no sewerage etc. So I thought I would share some of the things we have learned.

Power: Our power was off for only 4 hours but we were very aware if another big earthquakes hit (or still does) we could lose it for a prolonged period, we have two freezers holding alot of food supply. My cell phone was needing to be charged before this hit and lasted just 2 quick phone calls and a few texts before it went flat….but one of the first things I did was to quickly write out everyone’s phone numbers that I may need which was important but really cursed myself for not having them written somewhere else but on my phone, neither of us has a car charger for our phones!! We had dinner cooking at the time and finished it off on top of the stove – we had always thought we would be fine cooking this way in an emergency, the reality is 2 people we know lost their chimneys, older than ours but it could happen. We need an alernative. We had torches, batteries and candles in the corner of the dining room for emergencies, thank God!!

Food: Alot of our food is frozen and I have commented before that we realised this could be a problem in an emergency. Better to have it than not as it is a supply but also a problem of large amounts spoiling. I was glad to have quite a few soups frozen for ready meals if needed but few other actual meals and no one really wants to be trying to cook when you’re in shock and your house is still moving (if you actually had an apetite….or children). Why hadn’t I bought milk powder!!?? Our local shop reopened on the second day after but we were getting low on milk. Some of the bottling fell off the shelves even though I had pushed them to the back after the first one, and food fell out of the pantry and some smashed – alot to be said for tinned food (of which I had little and plastic jars) We had to take alot off and put on the floor before Roger could nail up battens to protect the rest (we had never ever thought of this)  and this done with broken glass lying everywhere because there is no time to clean up while rushing around trying to protect whats left.

Water: We had bottles of water in the freezer and a 20 litre container full for emergencies, not needed so far but a relief to know we have that.

Communication: Already covered the cell phones but we had kept an old landline phone in case of emergency, one that didn’t need power and we could still use this this time, even though we had problems with connection for the first 1/2 hour. We were so glad to have that. Cell phone lines were jammed and we couldn’t get through to family in Wellington the other centre hit which was nerve wracking for the first two hours. My son who lives 25 km from us had been able to connect with a family member via Facebook after a while. Roger went and sat in the car to hear the radio, something that unnerved me alone in a shaking house but men seem to need to know the news!! I won’t be so slack about charging my phone from now on.

Road Services: My son wanted us to go there but there is a large hill between us that we considered wouldn’t be safe travelling, which was wise as this had slips on. Also in the event of a tidal wave we are in a better position than town. I had always, stupidly, felt confident that Roger only works 5 minutes from home in the event of an emergency….there is a bridge over a river between here and work and this now has a sign on saying “Uneven surface”. I could be alone for a long time, or he and that’s the reality.

Breakages:

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These that I pictured early on in my blog are no longer and many other things. Not enough to bother with insurance processes and excesses but we had to take everything off walls and shelves. There was also alot of glass lying around and we both needed to find our shoes in the dark and be careful the dogs didn’t step on anything. In every room there was broken glass or china. A friend of mine that collects antiques went through after the first one and blu-tacked everything to the shelves (and took stuff down) just in case and this worked when the larger one hit, she had less breakages than us even though her home is full of precious things.

Pets: One dog is oblivious to anything and the other is wound up like anything. He hears the quakes coming, stops dead in his tracks then panics….and no bull here, the last few he has been standing under a doorway (he’s been watching us).

Community: Everyone checks on their neighbours …you hope, we all did. But I took our rubbish to the dump yesterday and the elderly guy who runs it (and who lives alone) told me he was terrified and felt sick all the time and there was nowhere he felt he could go to be with anyone afterwards, he now has our address and an assurance to please just come here anytime. Poor guy, and he wouldn’t be the only one like this.

Petrol, money etc: We have relations in Christchurch who told us later one of the things they do now is not let their petrol go lower than 1/4 tank and they keep some money in their wallet just in case because they couldn’t get either for ages after theirs. Did we learn from them, nope! My car was on empty and neither of us had cash on us. You just never know what’s around the corner and preparedness isn’t just all about food and candles.

Stress: For some of us (me!) anxiety levels go through the roof and you don’t quite function as well you thought you would. You can’t sleep, jump at every little tremor whether caused by quake, wind or neighbouring car lol, your senses become acute and you become weary and worried. And that’s ok because many others do too and it’s natural. I’ve gone through periods of practical doing and thinking to huge anxiety about the 19 % chance of another severe one. I now find it best just to keep busy to take my mind off things, sitting thinking just creates anxiety and I try to think of the 81% chance of it will just return to normal now 🙂

Not so fun weekend at quarteracre

We have had swarm earthquakes for 3 days and got a 5.7 this morning and this evening with a 6.5. Lots of broken crockery (and jars of preserving)! and no power for 3.5 hours but we’re ok. We are sleeping in the lounge because we are still being rocked by aftershocks, except I am not sleeping.

Our capital city Wellington got hit pretty hard too, the quakes were centred 15 – 20 km from our little town Seddon (out at sea)

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10901076