Tuesday, February 22, 2011

After shock

This morning was a crushingly ordinary morning, just chores and insignificant frustrations. Got some things done, planned some things for the afternoon—an ordinary morning.

After lunch, I went back to my computer to finish a blog post (now cancelled). I saw the first Tweets on Twitter announcing a massive earthquake in Christchurch, so I went to find information. Soon, in became clear there was a big earthquake.

By around 2:30pm, TV3 was on the air with live video from Christchurch—raw, unedited and crushingly, shockingly sad. It’s so unfair that only some five months after the last big earthquake Christchurch was struck again.

This one was far, far more severe than the September quake, despite being only 6.3, because it was closer (some 5km from the centre of the city) and much shallower (5km deep). It also happened at the worst possible time—lunchtime, when the city was full. This time there’s also loss of life: 65 confirmed dead, a list sure to grow, and scores were injured.

Just like last time, I turned to Twitter to let folks know that we were fine, we were in no danger and never felt a thing: It happened over 760 km (470 US miles) away from us. I posted to Facebook, sent an email to family in the US.

Next, I used the same tools to check on folks I know in the Christchurch area. It was well into evening when I found out the last one was safe and okay.

Social media come into their own during times of crisis, making it easy to let a large number of people know we’re okay, or to find out if others are. It also makes it easier to spread information—not all of it reliable, of course.

But the thing that really strikes me about these sorts of things is the immediate affect on the country: New Zealand is a small nation of around 4.4 million people. When something like this happens, we put aside our regional differences and unite as Kiwis: We are family.

At times like this, we need that.

The photos above are of Christchurch Cathedral before and after.


Roger Owen Green said...

I recalled from the last quake that you were likely OK. Still, because of its size, glad to read you're OK. And condolences to your fellow Kiwis wh did suffer losses.

Jason in DC said...

Just saw the headline this morning. Figured you were probably fine. Good that everyone you know is safe.

Oskar said...

We are praying for all of New Zealand at this time.

Nubbin wiggles & hugs,
Oskar & Pam

Timothy said...

In a way, today we are all Kiwis, Arthur. I shed a tear or two when I remembered visiting this lovely city in 2002. May the dead find rest in peace and the survivors comfort in each other and their memories. Poor old Christchurch!

toujoursdan said...

I spent load of time in Christchurch and have a few photos of the great cathedral. I have been glued to the TV since it broke.

My hopes and prayers are with all Cantabrians as they recover.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Roger: Thanks. I realise that especially in big events, even when folks know there's no real risk to us, they still want to make sure we're okay. Which is why I use all the social media at my disposal. Still, I try and stay in the background because the people of Christchurch, their friends and family, are suffering. It's a delicate balance, as you can imagine.

Jason: Thanks. Always good to be checked on, though! :-)

Oskar: Thank you.

Timothy: I was thinking the same thing, actually. Our shared humanity really comes through at a time like this.

toujoursdan: Yes, it's heartbreaking to see. Thanks for the support.