NZ quake survivor tells of terrifying night
LIA Chapman is a 21-year-old Christchurch local, born and bred. She's now survived two devastating earthquakes in her hometown, a 6.3 magnitude in 2011 and yesterday's 7.5 magnitude that was felt as far away as Wellington.
She can still remember the screams as the 2011 earthquake tore through the school oval beneath them and she's opened up here about how she survived last night's quake and the terrifying memories it triggered.
These are her words.
My name is Lia Chapman and I am 21 years old. I was born and raised right here in Christchurch.
I am currently working for Mediaworks, New Zealand, and I am in my final year of my Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Canterbury, majoring in History and minoring in English, Spanish and French.
I was 15 when the 2011 February earthquake hit Christchurch. My friends and I were lying on our high school field during our lunch break when the roaring and shaking first approached the ground beneath us.
The trauma of the sounds of cries, screams and alarms are still existent. The feelings of confusion, panic and fear still live on, and the scarring visions of smoky air, traffic jams and panicked faces are all unforgettable.
Cantabrians who experienced the 2011 February quake, wherever they were, will never ever forget what it felt like to be caught up in the tragic earthquake mess that you only seem to see on blockbuster action films these days.
Six years have passed since that day, and it truly seemed that local Cantabrians including myself, had built up a resistance to the affects of your standard earthquake or aftershock.
It is quite funny actually; any little earthquake that is felt nowadays always has humour surrounding it. "Oh that was definitely a 3.3 magnitude!!" (As if all the residents here are qualified geologists or seismologists lol) "Ooh that felt like a six for sure!!" and let us not forget the trolling Facebook statuses that fill up our news feeds "WOW! That was a biggie!!" "Quakecity is back on the shake again!"
Everyone has received their giggles during this rather large time frame however that all changed last night on the 14th of November 2016 during the early hours of the morning.
I was on the phone at the time with someone who lives in Sydney actually, and as I felt my bed gently swing and sway side to side, the familiar feelings of anxiety and trauma crept through me.
My phone cut out and I found myself alone in my bed with everything shaking, rattling and moving uncontrollably around me.
I waited for it to stop as I held my breath, but it didn't. It must've lasted for around two minutes before it began to settle.
I had never felt an earthquake that had so much length and continuum attached to it. It was not as violent as the February one or previous aftershocks, but the fear, anxiety and tears seemed to be felt a lot more sensitively as the length of this one was just too long to be taken lightly.
I went to check on my grandparents who were pretty calm but that didn't change the fact that the phones started ringing, the statuses started flooding in on social media and the neighbour's lights were switching on.
I couldn't help but panic. Despite being in this position before previously six years ago and despite the fact that nothing in my home had actually broken or fallen, I couldn't ignore the speed of my heartbeats or my heavy breathing.
Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse the tsunami warnings began to fill my timeline. I warned my grandparents thinking that they would take it seriously because they lost many family members in the 2009 Samoa tsunami but they didn't seem to flinch.
They told me it would be 'fine'. I called my mother who was quickly researching for more information but it seemed that everyone was so focused on the facts instead of their instincts...
The sirens started to go off then. The tsunami warning was to be taken seriously. We live close to the beach. Policemen zoomed the streets, trying to wake people up, trying to tell them to get up and get to higher ground.
My entire family ended up evacuating and after that it was a battle of what to take within minutes... Or seconds. Laptop? Clothes? Food? Water?
I couldn't believe how surreal this all was. I felt like I was about to fight for my life as well as struggling to fathom the safety of my family members as well.
I understand this may be perceived as a little dramatic but the previous trauma of the February quake, the current sounds of sirens, screams and the fact that it was almost half past one in the morning was just a recipe for a bloody anxiety attack.
We resided on a hill for the evening. My sisters and I cuddled up in the back of one of the family cars.
I've had about three hours sleep. I feel too anxious to sleep, or to be home alone.
I'm meant to be heading to Sydney for a holiday in a couple of days but am facing a true internal debate about leaving my family.
If there is one incredible difference that should be noted about then and now with the quakes, it is that the response of the community has been phenomenal.
Strangers opening up their doors to others, a woman offered a bed, food and warmth to my family as we resided on the West Morland hill last evening. Numerous donations to others living on the eastern coasts of the South Island and plenty of encouraging words and support are consistently out there for others to seek comfort in.
Unlike the first time, it seems that Christchurch (Quakecity) knows how to handle earthquakes and their effects a little better now. However, the trauma and fear aligned with the earthquakes still haunt the residents of Christchurch today.