It’s a very personal disaster. From the first anxious hours when I crouched over the computer waiting for facebook updates and phonecalls and looking at the increasingly frightening images coming out of Christchurch, it’s been very immediate. It’s a bizarre experience looking at the destruction on TV, as one often does because TV news specialises in disaster and war and horrors of all kinds, but knowing that this time people you know could be caught up in it. That it’s not just pictures of faraway people having faraway problems, but scenes from a place you know well.
New Zealand’s not a huge place, so I imagine that most everyone in the country went through what I did on Tuesday afternoon, watching, waiting, frantically trying to get in touch with people. My wait ended with relief; some people are still waiting; and many others had the worst possible end to their vigils. The knowledge of just how scared I was for a couple of hours, makes the pain of those who lost people more real and more difficult to see. My mind has been skittering queasily away from the fact that it could have been my family and friends hurt or killed.
I’m still dazed and have been obsessively checking online for updates. I don’t want to look, but I can’t seem to look away. I’ve stopped watching TV though, it’s too traumatic, and too uncomfortable watching reporters intrude on people’s grief and stare at blanket-covered bodies.
I’m frustrated too because I can’t do anything. Making a donation is the most useful thing I can do, according to the Red Cross and Civil Defense, but clicking a couple of links and giving away $100 or however much, doesn’t seem a large enough gesture.
And at this point, Petra came in to tell me that she’d puked on the footpath. She’s got a cold, an incredible morphing kindy cold that has been going on in various forms for a couple of weeks (I have it too and am not enjoying it much), and is all phlegmy. She coughed and puked up a bit of mucus. (Sorry, gross I know – when you’re the mother of a baby/toddler you become inured to their bodily fluids.) We’ve just spent a satisfactory few minutes washing it away with the watering can and then making puddles to jump in.
I’ll take the hint and stop here, but I wanted to post this picture of Christchurch just after the quake struck. The dust must be from all the collapsed buildings.