A Year of Reflection: One Year Anniversary of Earthquake in Christchurch

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One year ago, a deadly earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand, killing over a hundred people. I was in Christchurch when the earthquake struck and I can still recall that day vividly. On Wednesday, Feb. 22, I will participate at a commemoration ceremony at the New Zealand Embassy here in Washington D.C. In addition, I would like to share some of what I experienced by linking to a post of my personal accounts from the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand’s blog. An excerpt from the blog, as well as the link to the full text is provided below.

At the airport I went to the airline desks, only to find it was still an hour before the flight would open. The couple behind me said hello.

As we talked for a moment, a very low audible rumble began. The shaking started soon after … building and getting louder as ceiling tiles fell, pipes burst, and glass walls shattered.

The crowd reaction ranged from inaction to calm dropping and covering, to yelling and running for the doors. The majority took the best cover they could and waited until the shaking stopped. The fire alarm began immediately. The airport began rapidly emptying out onto the side walk and parking lots.

The magnitude of the damage was not obvious yet. As we filed out of the airport, I knew that if the phone system was still working, it likely wouldn’t be for long, so I quickly called my wife to let know what happened and that I was OK, when the first large aftershock struck (an event recorded on her voice mail, much to her dismay).

The crowd moved quickly away from the swaying control tower, further from the airport building. As we checked on each other to make sure everyone was OK, the first reports from downtown started coming in. Widespread devastation, and unlike the September quake, this one struck at lunch on a workday with a central business district full of people.

To read the full post, visit the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand’s blog.

That day served as a stark reminder that no matter where we live, it’s important to be prepared for any type of emergency -- even one that may be uncommon in your area. Visit www.ready.gov for tips on how you can get prepared today.

Last Updated: 
06/18/2012 - 12:06

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