Earthquake + baby = rollercoaster ride of emotions

snap of online geonet earthquake drum for McQueens Valley of the 6.3 earthquake 22 February 2011

This has been the most surreal 5 weeks. Firstly, meet my gorgeous little grandson Joseph David, 8 pd 6 oz and 55 cm born 25 February 2011 by emergency caesarian, the latest new love of my life :) Thank you to my amazing and special daughter [and of course her hubby Hamish] for such a special wee fellow - I love you. His birth was not without stress and 'adventure' including being 13 days late! I flew to Christchurch on 3rd February from Auckland expecting to be leaving around the 16th. How wrong i was! I have just got home on 12th March.

Newborn and look at Jess glowing!

3 hours old

Joseph 3 hours old and myself

11 days old

11 days old

11 days old

He was already 10 days overdue and i had moved my plane ticket forward to Auckland twice already to remain in Christchurch for his birth. Jess and her husband Hamish were driving to Christchurch Women's Hospital to have him induced when the 6.3 earthquake struck the city.

They managed to get to the hospital but it was a scene of panic and confusion with a toddler being triaged on the floor on the foyer of Christchurch Women's. It seems he had some masonry or similar fall on him. I don't know how he fared :-/ Meanwhile i had only just got in to Jess's car outside their garage. They own the rear townhouse of a block of 6. I had started to back out in to the main area of the asphalt driveway when the car started to lurch violently backwards and forwards and then side to side and ridiculously i just thought maybe i had the handbrake on and had my foot too far down on the accelerator. At this point i saw the neighbours car which was parked right next to Jess's come closer and closer but it was Jess's car being bounced [with me in it] towards it then bounced back again. My heart was racing and i felt sick with confusion. I looked up at the second storey of the townhouses and they were twisting side to side and swaying backwards and forwards. I then looked at the asphalt driveway and it was just like waves of licorice was only then i realised it was an earthquake.

I waited until the worst of the movement had abated but the aftershocks were hell scary. I got out of the car not knowing where to go and stood in the middle of the driveway, tried to phone my daughter and son in law but couldn't get through. Phoned my partner in Auckland who told me to get back to the house and stand in the porchway. Heart pounding and feeling sick and scared witless of further quakes i opened their door. To find this [click here for photo]

Only a few minutes earlier i had been sitting on the sofa by the baby bouncer [pushed further forward in the photograph in the previous link] and would have had the 75 litre aquarium smash on me if i was still there. Thank god i had decided to pop to my parents house instead and was sitting in the car at least. I was standing transfixed not knowing what to do... a text came through from Jess stating that she and Hamish were on their way home... obviously no inductions for babies would be done that day! I started to receive texts from family members - aunt and uncle's house in Cashmere was uninhabitable...most the bricks fell off it and inside damaged but they were fine. Couldn't get through to my elderly parents, they had cell phones but don't text and their phone batteries were flat. Their landline was not analog but cordless and relied on power [it was 8 hours before we knew they were ok]. There was no power or water.

I phoned my partner in Auckland again as just a voice to hear and a strong aftershock hit. I could hear the roar first and then it hit, i just screamed - it was so terrifying but at least he was on the phone with me.

Jess and Hamish got home 30 minutes later. What is normally a 10 minute trip took 40 minutes to their house in Addington. Poor Jess, coming home to such a mess and still heavily pregnant. We got stuck in and cleaned it up but of course the carpet sopped up the 75 litres of water and although we sponged as much we could it was impossible getting much more than 3 litres of it in a bucket [it dried out in the following week with dehumidifier on - they got power back on 9 hours later]. A massive aftershock hit as we were trying to clean it all up and Jess and i were thrown against her lounge wall. We just hugged each other terrified for the time it happened. Their bedroom was also a mess with chest of drawers and television tipped up and broken...but they got off lightly - couple of cracks in the exterior cladding of house and their patio concrete cracked.

We still had not heard from my brother [who works for one of the essential services] and his wife. Down the track it transpired that he was just outside the road tunnel working and scaringly looked up to see the boulders and rocks falling down in to Heathcote Valley [this residential area is one of the historical earlier areas of Christchurch and has lost 70% of its houses according to tvnz]; his wife was at the Palms Mall and terrifyingly had glass falling down around her and her daughter - my niece - who pushed her out of the way when a large shard falling towards her which ended up slicing the leg of a woman near her. [Again makes me thankful i was sitting in the car even if it was bouncing around!] I so feel for my brother who a few days later had to help clear a body in a 4wd vehicle from outside his work ... nothing was higher than the wheels and other ghastly sights xxx I love you bro and for what you have done for others during the quake.

My parents were physically fine. My ex husband managed to get to their house in his 4wd vehicle and check on them. Jess and I went early the next morning to attempt to get to their street in Avondale - one of the severest hit areas. It was such a damn scary drive and i was scared if we stayed out too long it would be our luck she came in to labour and couldn't get to hospital! We had to park in Avondale Road - the roads had deep potholes and liquefaction was everywhere. We carefully walked through all the mud and water to my parents house and they had sat up scared all night in the kitchenette. [Their house was severely damaged in the September 4th earthquake and now of course has sustained much more damage].

Jess heard from her midwife on the Thursday afternoon following the quake and had a couple of hours only to prepare for a second chance at inducing Joseph. We went up to Christchurch Women's hospital for the gel insertion [which didn't start anything!] and had to go back to hospital at 7.30am the next day to get things really going - Joseph's birthday. 

For the couple of weeks following Joseph's birth, I stayed with my parents in Avondale to ensure they were fine as it was just on two weeks all up after the quake before they got power and water back on to their house as they were in one of the hardest hit areas. I was also close to my house in Wainoni which had also received further damage to the previous damage in the Boxing Day quake when a couple of quake epicentres were only metres away, but even though cracks had opened up the driveway and backyard and the house had some tiles shake loose, foundation and pile damage, fence, wall & ceiling damage - the house is structually sound. Subsequently my next door neighbour ended up renting my house as hers is uninhabitable with collapsing walls inside and her chimney crashing through the back wall of her house. My insurance assessor has already been through and so i like thousands of others - wait for the outcome [update: confirmed green zone but having insurance issues]. I would like to thank my employer for being exceedingly understanding at this horrendous time and allowing me the precious time with my family in Christchurch to ensure not only that they are doing ok but that i also had the time for my own mental health to feel better about returning to Auckland and leaving them. I am sincerely indebted. I have spent the time since the quake crying for what my home town has lost, what my family history has lost or had damaged:

        My parents married in St Pauls Presbyterian Church, Cashel St in    
        1959. It has gone from this to this and since, has been completely
        demolished although I believe the columns may have been saved.


        My Great grandparents above married in the Knox Church in 1910 it has   
        gone from this to this.  As of September 2014 rebuilding is going well.  It looks different 
        of course but has been done sympathetically with a new contemporary look.
    Great great aunts & uncles were baptised at St Luke's, Manchester street in the 1800's - from this to this

Rosannah & Thomas LODGE formerly MACE nee WORT/WERT

    My aunt & uncle married in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament & i was bridesmaid in 1978 - from this to this
    Added 2014: "Urban exploration" photos 

Our local cemeteries have been badly damaged: Linwood; Barbadoes Street; Bromley I have ancestors buried in all of these.

I have felt honoured and privileged to have been part of the incredible outpouring of community not just local but New Zealand wide. I've cried for the loss of New Zealander's and internationals alike - i like many others know of people that have have loved ones and friends die. My gratitude and deep appreciation go out to all those who have helped in search and rescue and keeping us and property feeling secure and safe; bringing us power and water not just back to homes but ensuring a good supply is accessible at points around the city. To people like Tim Baker - salt of the earth and someone who has embraced his local community of Aranui by providing a clothes washing service [who has also written in depth about the heritage and history of the local area and is also a local land agent] and whom was on the 40th Reunion Committee of Aranui High School in 2000 alongside myself. The wonderful uplifting people from Timaru who helped my son and myself shovel the silt from my parents back yard and the people from student army, Coalgate and Loburn who helped shovel out their driveway, words are just not enough but thank you so so soooo very much from the depths of my heart. The difference it made to my parents just to see the bulk of it gone was something special.

To my awesome son Roy THANK YOU for thinking of Nanna and Grandy by making up the lovely sandwiches, providing another gas cooker and containers of water, travelling to help me move the silt then after that travelling to Lincoln later that night to see your newborn nephew then having to drive all the way back home down South. You're a very special person.

I'd like to mention my fabulous cousin Clare.  She has also had a harrowing time during all this due to the fact she lives right atop of Lyttelton and has been evacuated and returned to her home several times due to rock falls, also having to support her parents through all this when their own home in Cashmere was severely damaged.  She has instigated the Trust for children with head injuries in the name of 8 month old Jayden Harris who died in the quake after a television fell on him - Clare i am so proud of you :) xx

To the people of the badly hit areas of Christchurch ... I feel for you, those aftershocks are so disconcerting and sickening - I hope you get some peace soon. Especially my special special family xxxx

GGG grandparents Robert & Sarah EVANS nee KITCHENER

I loved this church - Holy Trinity in Lyttelton [oldest stone church in Canterbury dating c1860. Previously a wooden church was on the site built c1852].My pioneering family the EVANS's had strong links to it as settlers from 1850. In 2000 i attended special services as secretary to the Canterbury Pilgrims & Early Settlers Association to mark the 150th anniversary of Canterbury. It's devastating to see such damage :(   [and since this post, collapsed in totality].

Some photos i took on a walk around my parents area of Avondale on 4 March 2011. [Now declared red zoned].

My Flickr photo's of Holy Trinity taken April 2011 

My Flickr photo's from after February 2011
St Joseph's Catholic Church - Lyttelton
Timeball Station, Lyttelton, Ami Stadium/Ferry Road and Avonside Drive
Timeball Station totally collapsed in the June 13 2011 quake
Lyttelton Union Parish Church
Damage to Linwood Cemetery
Memorial Service held at Auckland War Memorial Museum
Rutherford Street [Woolston] Cemetery damage

My own ongoing issues relating to insurance since the quake

Random videos and links relating to the earthquake:
Joe Morgan's video

Ross Becker's fantastic photographs...


16 May 2013
Joseph will have a new brother in [hopefully!] 4 weeks time


May 2013

  Grandson 2: Charlie James born 25 June 2013 - 3 days old.

August 2014

Joseph and Charlie are to have a new sibling :o)  Due February 2015

Grandbaby 3

Joe 4 1/2 yrs &  Charlie 15 months - September 2014

Charlie 16 mths [number 2] gives baby 3 a hug and kiss!

11 February 2015 

Toby arrived :o) 9 pounds and 56cm long

6 days old




  1. Sandy

    Our stories sustain us...thanks!!!

    Kind regards

  2. I've been quietly concerned when we hadn't heard from you, Sandy -- I'm so very glad all is well with you and your family. Oh, and congratulations! Joseph looks gorgeous. Welcome back to the 'net -- you've been missed! :-)

  3. So glad you were all safe - great to see the videos of the new family.
    I wondered how you were able to keep extending your stay - thought he would never arrive! As it turns out it sounds as if you were well used over the past two weeks supporting everyone..

    Japan - words fail me..... can hardly bear to watch it. After having no power for so long, we missed most of the footage of our own quake - but this is just too painful to watch.

  4. Thanks so much Lisa for your kind words! Yes i didn't have internet access at my parents house... i didn't have net withdrawals too bad tho LOL! Too busy fussing over mum and dad and ensuring they were ok ... hard to get my head around just plodding off to work tomorrow and concentrating and back to doing my everyday tasks when my adrenalin is still zooming around and my mind is constantly with my family :|

  5. @Fi ... LOL yes i was beginning to think Jess only had wind ;-)... seriously though it was lovely to be able to spend the time with her especially as he was so overdue!
    Japan is so shocking :( ... the past three weeks have been like watching an apocalyptic movie unfold ...
    Hope you are coping ok Fi and everyone you know are ok's been a sod of a year for you also xxx
    @Robin ... you are so correct and so many amazing couragous and compassionate stories have come from our quake xxx how's Christ's College doing?


    1. Hi Sandy. I am compiling a collection of the information I have of the Francis side of my family and wonder if it would be possible to obtain copies of your excellent photographs of the graves of Lieut-Colonel F.W. Francis (my great grandfather) and family and also of his mother Sarah Godso. I would be very grateful for these if it's possible and would be happy to acknowledge their source.

      Thank you for any help you can provide


    2. Hi Gln ... email me sarndra at and we can discuss this :)



Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

1:12 scale Genealogists study - part 2

Making connections - the s.s. Tainui Disaster

The murder of Emily KEELING
Auckland 1886