The lives of the citizens of Christchurch, New Zealand including my own, changed dramatically when two major earthquakes recently struck the city. The first disaster occurred at 4 am on Saturday, 4 September 2010 (magnitude 7.1) and the second at 1pm on the busy working day of Tuesday, 22nd February 2011 (magnitude 6.3). Two large office blocks collapsed as did numerous old brick facades in the quaint Victorian city centre resulting in many injuries and 185 deaths.
I was on a lunchtime dash to my local supermarket when the second quake struck. When it was all over and reassured that no one near me was hurt, I shakily made my way to the car to send off texts to staff, family and friends. Hurrying home to check the damage and get my earthquake kit (food, water, first aid kit, matches, emergency radio and space blankets), I quickly realised that this second quake was much more destructive than the first one. Fortunately for many homes and businesses to the west of the city the damage was extensive but minor. On the east of the city centre the flooding and liquefaction of the soil caused major damage to buildings, roads and waste water systems. Our single storey office was on the edge of the cordoned off central city in which 900 damaged buildings have now been demolished. Fortunately no one had been hurt as we had carefully earthquake proofed the office after the first big one. Everything dangerous had been put on the ground or moved to a lower level.