Posted by: Talie Morrison | September 7, 2010


Oh my gosh!!!   What a RUDE awakening!   No joke!   That was the most VIOLENT thing I have ever experienced.   It was 4:35 am on Saturday morning – and we were only about 10 miles from the epi-center of a 7.4 Earthquake!   It only lasted a minute – but do you know how LONG a minute is when you are petrified!   There was no way I could have gotten out of the bed –

They were straight when we went to bed on Friday night!

I would have been thrown across the room!   As it started settling down, I did get to a door frame which I knew was the safest place to be – but by the time I could stand up, most of the original quake was finished.   I called across to Myles and Margaret and they were fine – oh, we were SO lucky!   We were without power or water and it was still totally dark.   So we got our flashlights and transistor radio and then the three of us crawled into their bed to wait till it got light.  We did lots of texting and calling to let our kids know we were ok – and to check on M&M’s kids to be sure they were ok too.    The neighbors came by to check on us – but there wasn’t much anyone could do in the dark.   Once it got light we found that there were lots of thing fallen off the shelves, but only a few things broken – and all the pictures on the wall were askew!  I can’t believe that more things didn’t break. (Weird though – there was water on the bathroom floor because it had “sloshed” out of the toilet!)   However, the chimney was scattered across the yard outside!   It’s a hundred year old farm house and Myles had been talking about taking the chimney down anyway!   We were without electricity till 6 pm on Saturday.   Being “on the farm”, Myles and Margaret have well water – but the pump is electric – so without electricity we were also without water.   Myles was totally prepared though and had a 20 liter container with water in it – and we had plenty of food, batteries and warm blankets.   They had their camping stove and I had mine – so we were able to fix tea and soup.   So we were fine on that front.

What was left of the chimney!

It was SO amazing that no one was killed in this quake even though it was the same size as the Haiti quake.  It happened at 4:35 am on a Saturday – if it had been at another time of day, lots of people would have been injured or killed.    There were some injuries, but only a couple of critical ones.  The radios asked people to stay home unless absolutely necessary.   So we stayed home and tried not to create more problems for the emergency services.   The neighbors came over and we cleaned up the chimney bricks and patched the roof.   We took apart the well and got some water by manually pumping it.

The aftershocks are very disconcerting – 3 days later we are still having aftershocks that are 4.5 or 5 on the Richter Scale.   Mostly they are still happening every hour or two.   We are up to over 100 aftershocks.    And they take you by surprise!   Giving you an inner “jolt” when they happen.   All of the sudden you realize you are heading to the doorway!

I have learned several things about earthquakes that I didn’t know (I could have done without learning all this stuff though!).   I knew it was violent,  but I had no idea HOW violent.   And I didn’t know it would be so NOISY.   Just the sound of the quake is amazing!   Even some of the aftershocks you can hear before you feel them    —  Of course, there is the shock of it – It is hard to explain but do you know how a dog can get something in its mouth and really shake it back and forth – I felt like a dog was doing that to my room during the initial shake.

We were really lucky that we had phone service, and our cell phones worked.   But I didn’t realize that cell phone towers have a battery back up – and after awhile if there isn’t electricity you will lose the cell reception.   And when you are in the midst of a crisis, without electricity, everyone else in the world is seeing photos of what is going on around you but you aren’t!    All our information was coming to us via battery operated radios.

Lots of road work to be done!

Another thing that I didn’t realize happens in earthquakes is what they call “sand volcanos”.   There are these piles of sand that have been forced up from underground.    Of course the roads are all broken up too – lots of cracks and humps in the pavement.    So there is lots of cleaning and fixing that will need to be done.

I have also been really impressed with the New Zealand response.   The Civil Defense Team was activated, calm decisions were made, and things were dealt with.   To have most of Christchurch back in power and water by Saturday night was really impressive.   Of course, there are always some pockets that don’t have their services back, but things are being worked on.   And the road crews are all out fixing the streets as fast as they can. Most of the damaged buildings are historical buildings – older buildings.   I hope some will be able to be restored and not totally lost – but some buildings are already being pulled down because they are dangerous.   They estimate that 100,000 houses will need repairs and there are a lot of people who have moved into shelters.  I’ve offered to volunteer, but they haven’t called me yet.   And Myles, Margaret and I have donated mattresses and blankets for the shelters.

All and all I am thankful for being alive.   I am thankful that Myles and Margaret’s house didn’t have more damage.   And I hope I don’t have to do the “Earthquake Experience” every again!



  1. oh my gosh talie!
    i am soooo relieved you are all safe and sound!

    i am sending you all of my love and huge hugs!


  2. Thanks for posting about the earthquake Talie. So glad to hear that you, Margaret and Myles are ok and that the farm didn’t suffer too much damage. (Must have really freaked out the sheep!!!).
    Sad that some of Christchurch lovely historic buildings were damaged and I too hope that they reconstruct rather than tear down.
    Hope the aftershocks end soon – that must be disconcerting to feel those after the earthquake experience.
    Anyway love to you all – and so happy you’re safe and sound.

  3. Wow, Talie!! Gosh. I’m so glad you’re okay. It sounds like a rough time but also, maybe, the best possible 7.4 earthquake! No lives lost? Amazing. I’m glad you were with friends who were well prepared. I’ll be curious how it goes if you get called to help. So glad you have this blog.

  4. Glad you are all right.G

  5. Glad you are all right.Gates&Margy

  6. WOW! We have been thinking of you. Glad so few were critically – and you survived well. thanks for being so quick with your news.

    love, Lee

  7. Talie–so glad that all is well with you and your friends. Your description of the experience and details of the aftermath was so detailed and “calm.” Much better than CNN. It reminds me of the quake we had in SoCal in 1971 or 72. Also in the early morning but on a weekday, so there were traffic issues. Andrew was 3 or 4 and was tossed out of bed and very scared. I was in a waterbed (old hippie) and will never forget that sloshing. My living room looked like your picture. Keep us updated. Lots ‘O Love.

  8. Couldn’t ad much more than Hope. So very glad it hapened in the wee early morning hours and that everyone is alright!!

    It is truly a belssing!!

    Love, Heather

  9. Wow! What a big quake. I read this morning that you could get another large one. Glad you’re OK.


  10. Really wonderful that the damage was minor and you are okay.
    A friend of mine was in the Alaska 1964 8.4 quake – that I think has been upgraded to an 8.9. Said he could not walk, could not move on hands and knees, and finally crawled out the building he was in on his belly.
    Hope mother earth calms down soon! Lash

  11. dear talie, I just love reading your letters and I am amazed at the experience and happening of such a large quake!!! I am soooo glad you are all ok but as you said, Haiti and others have been that large and smaller, with thousands of deaths. Just structures falling is intense!!
    I am sending you love
    andrea H.

  12. OMG – I am trying to imagine the way that would feel – the shaking a toy by a dog sure gives me an idea. When is the last time NZ had and earthquake and one that is 7.4 ?

    Sure makes me want to say again how much I love you 🙂

  13. Talie, I am sooooo glad you are OK. It is scary that there will be more shocks in the future. Still I am not letting the possibility keep me from coming down there. I leave here on Oct 19 and expect to be in Auckland the 21 or 22. I will be in touch either way.

    Again I am So glad you came through the shaking whole.

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