Completed a very standard night shift. Stood at station doors thinking "I´m all caught up with my building work. Will go home for a quiet day".
Breaky, tidy house, lawns, boiled up some rhubarb and placed on bench to cool, head to lounge, BOOM, CRASH, BOOM.
Next memory is standing on the drive looking back at SummerHill Stone crashing off the house, dust everywhere. Neighbours talking. Head over, glass and bricks everywhere.
In the distance a rumble like distant thunder. "I hope thats not buildings in the city collapsing I said to Pete. Surely not, we are 10ks away with the Port Hills in between was his reply. Little did we know.
No power, water or phone coverage immediatly.
Contact family by cell. Service busy, Shit. Service busy, Shit. Service busy, Shit. Finally get through. No reply, Oh Shit. Try and try and try.
Decide to water proof house. Standing on 3m scaffold with constant after shocks was no fun but completed.
Daughter rings. She is at her grand mothers, both Ok. Big relief. Still service busy, service busy and then no reply with partner.
Get through to Welfare Office. They update me due to TV coverage.
Txt arrives from partner from another number. Ring number. Service busy, Service busy. Finally get through. She has her own dramatic story. Lucky to be alive. All of city centre evacuated to Moorhouse Av. Is walking to her brothers work and they walk home together. Another huge relief. Other children out of town. Hear all family are fine at last.
Head in to Woolston Station. Tunnel closed so go over hill. Rocks the size of my 4x4 on road. Swerve around and over to city. Fine until about 2ks from station then grid lock. 1 hour for 2ks.
Station a mess. 50mm gaps between station and back yard. Appears whole station has moved 100mm towards road and concrete slab settled 50mm from USAR base and station. Liquafaction everywhere.
No truck so assist at USAR base.
Head to town with 5 on an old Land Cruiser.
Arrrive CTV Building. 18m high building now 3m high. No one could possibly survive, surely.
Start as goffer to rescuers. Pass in hammers, hacksaws, lifting jacks, spreaders, whatever. Out comes a patient, then a body then two more patients, how did they survive? Half hour later, rescuers move back for rest so move up to tunnel to pass out debris. Rescuers now about 2m in and still others alive. Get a message from police that they have been contacted from Tokyo that there is 7 survivers under the rubble in the cafeteria.
Rescuers move back, its now Paul at the front, Terry behind and me behind Terry. Im now in this tunnel thats been created. 1m wide by 500mm high held up with jacks and shoring. Others working on the top floor smashing with hammers, vibrations moving through the rubble, after shocks continuing, CAN THEY NOT STOP THAT this is no fun in here. The smoke builds up, its filtering through the cracks in the rubble, need ventilation, end up having to ignore everything because we cant stop any of it. Another one alive. Still sitting at the desk and able to talk.
Cut the legs off the desk, pull it away, cut the legs off the chair and slowly ease the person out. Once passed out of the hole we have to forget them but just hope that its all worth while. Another one still alive. As we ease him out on to the stretcher he trys to sit up. Dosn,t have a scratch on him, amazing. Terry now moves back out of the hole. Im now second in line. Paul is working away like a fox terrier. Bits of chair, table, ceiling,wall, anything and everything is passed back out the tunnel. Cutting gear comes in and out until finally Paul says that this next one is alive but too well trapped. 4m of tunnelling and Im not sure how many victums or patients but we can go no further.
Time to start from above. Concrete saws, jack hammers, demolition diggers and lots of helpers. Where they all came from I have no idea but slowly and surely a hole is created about 1m x 1m through two floors of concrete.
Once cleared the Ambulance staff are in, then they call for a doctor. Twenty minutes later another is free of the debris and alive. When passed out to ambulance staff there is no applause, or congratulations. There is just silence knowing that the many others trapped wont be so lucky.
At about 4am Paul, Geoff and I are asked to go back to city station. Due to a lack of vehicles we walk back and I get to see the organised chaos at work. The station is split, large slabs broken away but the work goes on.
We are now the Woolston crew, 2 officers and a FF but no truck. We head down to USAR to get a truck and then get called back to City as they have a spare person. We are now 3 officers and a FF.
1 call and a short rest and then the on duty crew is here.
The short 10 minute drive to the partners brother takes an hour and a half. Only one bridge over the Avon is open and that didn,t seem at all safe but with a lot of relief and a lot tears I was able to catch up and have for us both a much needed cuddle.
Talked with the Society Chairman to try and explain the situation. Arapawa was to dispatch a Bronto so he will come as passenger. Call to sisters place near by. All ok.By the afternoon I,m exhausted and crash.
24th. Meet Keith Nixon and Alan Holmes at City Station at 8am. Attend welfare group meeting as update. Provide bed for Keith and Alan as drove all through the night.
Call to house to tidy up the interior. Bloody pot plant upside down in my pot of rhubarb.
Begin huge job as one of many Welfare Assistants to Fire Service. Attend numerous meetings and call to stations.
Its now well into March and the days have completely murged together. Since the 24th we have lived in 4 different houses, been informed own house unlivable, found another, thanks to boys from Hawkes Bay and local help shifted in, got settled, made media interviews, assisted members and non members in any way I possibly could, taken in a refugee who am now trying to find home for, had enormous support from all around the country and world. Meet some fantastic people who have flown into our city to assist. Been very well fed every where, and generally want to thank absolutley every one world wide for all the support recieved by the citizens of Christchurch.
Just so you know what you see on TV is a very small fraction of the truth and YES OUR BEAUTIFUL CITY IS MUNTED .
PS My position as Welfare Board Member for Region 5 is due for election. Anyone interested?
Kevin Crozier Region 5 Rep NZFFWS.