Kim and I were sitting at our purple lunch table. George, one of Synapsys’ contractors, wandered over and sat down with us. We hadn’t seen him for a while, so we were catching up. The room started to rattle, but it took us a moment to react – we’ve had so many aftershocks now they don’t really bother me. This one was different.
As the intensity increased, Kim and George slid under the table and I jumped up and braced myself in a nearby doorframe. I could see James skating around the kitchen, he was shouting something but I couldn’t hear him over the noise.
I could hear Phil shouting too, but didn’t know what he was saying either. I kept my head down, feet firmly planted and held on. It was over in about 20 seconds, and I can quite honestly say that it was the slowest 20 seconds of my life. As the shaking stopped, Phil’s shouting became comprehensible:
“GET OUT NOW” … “GET AWAY FROM THE WALL” … “DON’T STOP TO GET ANYTHING JUST GET OUT”.
I ignored him for a moment to make my way over to Kirsty’s desk. I couldn’t see her and I didn’t know she had gone out for lunch a few minutes earlier. Once I could see she wasn’t there, I grabbed my phone and ran. We got out and down and away. Phil was last out, checking that everyone exited safely. We stood together in a huddle in the middle of the street, with all the other people who streamed out.
The image I come back to in my mind over and over is looking up and around and seeing the fallen buildings. It was hard to comprehend. There were people in those buildings. What happened to them? Did they get out? Kirsty did. She picked her way through the rubble to join us.
Then my thoughts turned to making contact. I called Stephen and got through after several tries. “Hallo, that was a big one!” he said. Bit of an understatement I thought. But I knew at least that it was centred in town – it hadn’t resonated from out his way. I could tick off Grace, Arlia, Antony and Wyatt as safe then. My next thought was Megan. She could be anywhere. And yet, just as I considered this, she walked out of the rubble towards me. She had been waiting for a bus in the centre of the city. I’ve never been so happy to see her.
There is more, but I won’t write about it now – getting out of the city, the long walk home, the aftermath. Maybe later.