Over the last week we have all read about and watched the horrific devastation the earthquake which struck Nepal created. This was quickly followed by reports of an earthquake hitting Mexico!
And just last week in Nelson we were also struck with a 6.2 earthquake – thankfully its epi-centre was located some 100km away and it struck at a depth of 50km. So, despite a nasty jolt which seemed to go on forever there was no material damage to building and possessions.
No material damage?
Well that statement is not quite true. You see Nelson is the home to 5,000 refugees from Christchurch, people either through choice or no choice (their homes were destroyed) decided to move away. Kate, Maddie and I are included in those refugee statistics.
It is well known that Christchurch experienced a 7.1 earthquake in November 2010 and then a 6.3 earthquake in February 2011 which killed 187 people – an old school friend of mine sadly included in that number. The major difference between last weeks earthquake and the Christchurch earthquakes was that the Christchurch quakes were within 20 km of the city and between 5 and 10 km deep.
After the February quake in 2011, as a family we decided that Kate should take Maddie back to the UK for safety reasons. While they were away Christchurch experienced a 5.9 fore shock and another 6.3 earthquake.
Now, I think I am as brave as any man and to be perfectly honest earthquakes don’t phase or frighten me greatly. They are unsettling for sure and I hate them, but I don’t live in morbid fear and I don’t freeze or panic during one, nor do I fall to pieces after one. Cool, calm and collected, ready to lend a hand.
But looks can be deceiving. In the 12 month period after the first earthquake, over 3500 after shocks were felt. They were not damaging but they came at a cost. Earthquakes have a sound signature, a frequency! To my ears its the same frequency – as a low rumbling of a truck or Bus, changing either up or down into second gear. Sounds weird but it is dead set true. It was extremely unfortunate therefore that when we lived in Christchurch there was a bus stop right outside our house!
Bodies and mind – there is such an amazing relationship between them. Very quickly my mind, my brain made the connection of the rumbling to danger and almost instantly my guts turned to water. This happened regularly for the next 3 years, I had no control over it. Every-time I picked up the frequency I went into earthquake mode, senses heightened, ready to protect my loved ones, ready to dive under a table, stand in a doorway or drop cover hold. Then after the danger passed I need the bathroom.
Over the last 18 months, I thought and hoped that this unhelpful cooperation between my ears, my brain, my guts had been disbanded, but I was wrong. Last week I was fortunate enough to be driving when the earthquake struck – I didn’t feel it! But just the association with the word ‘earthquake’ and my protection alliance is back in business!
At work my ears are now picking up the movement of buses and trucks that they didn’t two weeks ago. My tummy rumbles more often and the times I excuse myself from my desk are more regular. I guess I should at least be grateful that my body and brain are looking out for me.
I am sure this is the same for many of the Christchurch refugee’s, I know that this is certainly true for Kate, who automatically went into flight response. At least we know its not our fault, it is just human survival instincts kicking in – fight or flight.
But please spare a thought for the people of Nepal, their journey to recovery has just started and it is a long and dark and sometimes painful ride. In the over all scheme of things Christchurch was lucky, a modern city with a reasonable infra-structure in a developed first world country. But alas the same cannot be said for Nepal, so if you have a few dollars or pounds spare, then please donate this to the reconstruction of Nepal, they are certainly going to need it.