The world watched in horror on 22 February 2011 when a devastating earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter Scale took the lives of 182 people and left the City of Christchurch in ruins. However, what the rest of the world may not be aware of is the continued misery that the stoic people of Canterbury continue to endure on a daily basis.
The February earthquake came after a strong 7.1 magnitude quake on 4 September the previous year; although there was considerable damage to homes and other premises, the country breathed a sigh of relief that no lives were lost. The September quake had hit during the night and it is believed that this spared many lives compared to the potential loss of lives if the quake had happened during daylight hours. The September quake left people feeling nervous and on edge in the following months and they endured around 5000 aftershocks, before the dreadful quake on 22 February this year. That averages out at about 30 aftershocks a day. I know how unnerved I get when there is a minor earthquake - it is frightening, my heart starts racing, and I'm always wondering if it's going to be 'the big one'.
It is hard to imagine the fear that the people of Christchurch have to endure on a daily basis; every time there is an aftershock they must be wondering whether they will get out alive. Added to this there are many homes which are uninhabitable and will have to be destroyed. Others can be salvaged but the day-to-day lives of the people who have to live in these conditions is causing unbearable stress and misery for many. Children feel terrified, despite their parents' best efforts to reassure them that they will be safe; how can a parent effectively reassure a child when they are feeling the fear just as much.
On Monday 13 June Christchurch was again hit by two strong aftershocks; one was a magnitude 5.5 and this was followed by a magnitude 6. Many of the buildings which had been damaged in February were rendered irreparable; 45 people received minor injuries and one elderly person sadly lost their life. One wonders just how much more the people of Canterbury can endure.
The hearts of all New Zealanders have been touched by the plight of the people of Canterbury and many feel frustrated that they are unable to help out in a practical way. Donations of food, clothing, bedding and other basic needs were almost overwhelming, but the main way for most people to help was by way of financial assistance. Many fund-raising events were held immediately after the February quake and are ongoing in many communities to allow donations to continue to be collected.
When we face tough times in our lives it is easy to ask "why is this happening to me?" The people of Christchurch are an inspiration to us all to keep going, no matter how hard things get. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with them.
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