Today is the first anniversary of the devastating Christchurch earthquake that claimed the lives of 185.
February 22nd 2011 started like any other normal day for us. Our offices were in the old harbourmasters building in Lyttelton. There was nothing out of the ordinary as we worked away, coders coding, BAs BA’ing, testers testing, and bosses drinking coffee.
Then suddenly the earth shook violently. This wasn’t any ordinary aftershock, we had experienced hundreds after the September quake, but this was different, this was massive.
The building moved as it had never before, it heaved under the strain. In the split second as the shaking starts, people catch each others’ eyes, thinking will it stop or do we need to take cover. The ceiling panels started falling, take cover it is. As people dived under desks, aircon units crashed off the wall, computer monitors literally flew sideways from desks. We were right at the epicentre, but we didn’t know that yet. Power was out, alarms were ringing all around us, and the air was thick with settlling dust.
As we ran into the street we could see our building, along with what appeared to be every other building in the street was destroyed or severely damaged. Later, as we struggled over the Port Hills, we looked down on our home city, the collapsed buildings, the streets under water, carnage everywhere. We knew that things would never be the same.
In the weeks that followed the tenacity, ingenuity, resilience and generosity of the people of New Zealand, and the world shone through. First with the rescue and now with the extensive recovery.
Our office was gone, but within a week we were writing code again and offers of help poured in from our friends, customers and strangers throughout the land. Thank you New Zealand.
Despite all of the personal issues, like trashed homes, kids losing schools, not having running water, and constant aftershocks (10,000+ and counting) our staff coped magnificently and Tradevine was launched in November, one month behind schedule.
We are the lucky ones, possessions are replaceable. To all those who lost their lives, we grieve for your untimely loss. For all those who were injured, we hope for a speedy mend, and for all in Christchurch whose lives have changed irrevocably in that instant, we stand together with you, as we rebuild our city and lives, together.
Crushed car. Our building in the background.
Directly across the road from the office. (note: the road had to be cleared of rubble, by hand, to allow emergency vehicles through)
Photos courtesy of Phil Styler.