If you were listening very closely last week, you may have heard a sound that was hard to identify. It may have been soft, it may have been very loud. It may have been difficult to distinguish from the everyday sounds around you. Then again, you may not have heard anything at all.
Last Tuesday, February 22nd, the city of Christchurch, NZ was rocked by an earthquake. Again. This time, much much worse than the one in September. You see, although the one in September was bigger in magnitude (7.1 vs 6.3), this one was shallower (5kms vs 33kms deep) and centred closer to the city. And with those factors in play, the city crumbled - in so many ways.
Buildings collapsed, buses were crushed, people ran screaming into the streets, only to find themselves confronted with more destruction than they could ever imagine. Within minutes, it was breaking news on TV. Within hours, our phone lines were tied up with people trying to find each other. Within days, the country as a whole had been brought to its knees.
We have watched hours and hours of media coverage. We have cried with joy and with desperate sadness. We have cheered as more and more Search and Rescue teams arrive in the country to help and cried as the realisation has set in that they are really more of a Search and Recovery.
Over the last week, the death toll has climbed higher than any of us had thought it would. As I write this, it stands at 155 people dead and still many missing. Many of the people I know have been directly affected, losing family and friends. Many more are just amazed that this is what we are dealing with.
We've read first person accounts of the terror that people felt and watched too many hours of tv broadcasts surrounding it. It's just all.....too much.
There has got to be a limit to how much this small country can take, and I think we are fast approaching it. Two earthquakes and a mining disaster in the space of 6 months is just.....enough. I don't think we can take it anymore.
From a purely personal point of view, it has certainly made me think. In my head I have mapped out every possible route from clients' houses, shops & libraries to get to my children as quickly as possible. I can tell you how I'd get there in my car, on a bike or on foot. And I can tell you that while I think running is the exercise invented by demons, I'd be running as fast as I could to get to my children.
I have compiled MOST of an emergency kit for the house and some stuff to go in the shed and the car.
I have talked to my children about what to do if it happens.
I have ...... become paranoid.
People, this country is hurting. I have heard talk of how "only" 155 people are dead. And yes, I can see how that would seem like a small number compared to Haiti or Chile or the tragedy of 9/11. But in a country like this where everyone knows someone who knows someone else, it hits very close to home.
Kiwi men have a reputation for being very stoic, very strong, very "she'll be 'right". Over the last week, I have seen more grown men cry than I ever hope to again.
That sound you may have heard a week ago? That was the sound of our collective hearts breaking. But Christchurch will rise again. They will mourn their dead, they will clear away the rubble and they will rise again. With the help of the country, the student army and the rescuers on the ground....they will rise.
In the meantime? Please keep this little corner of the world in your thoughts...Christchurch in particular. Our Prime Minister is launching a global fundraising campaign, but I am launching a global blog love fest. Send your love our way. Please.
"Kia Kaha Christchurch"