Safe after the earthquake

Hi Everybody! Apologizes for the delay in posting. A lot of logistical changes have happened in the last six weeks — including a long wait for our Internet connection. Thank you for all the well wishes and check-ins after the Kiakoura earthquake. We are fine and were not directly affected by the quake.

When it hit, we were up in Hamilton (about a 4-hour drive from our house in Whanganui) and asleep in our camper van. Richard felt the shaking first, which was more like rocking on the rubber tires.

He woke up and said, “What is that?”

I didn’t hear him. A few moments later I woke up and immediately whipped my head around to Richard. “WHAT are you doing?!”

“Umm. That’s not me. I think it’s an earthquake.”

We pulled the curtains back and squinted out the window at a 15-meter tall pine tree which looked like it was caught in a wild wind. I was surprised by how long the earthquake lasted. I’ve only been in a couple quakes and I remember them only lasting 15 seconds or so. This one just kept going. Which makes the damage done at Kiakoura understandable. The photos of road damage, seabed rise and train tracks that shook themselves across the road are impressive.

The next day, we talked with a friend whose family has lived in Hamilton for 40 years and she said she’d never felt an earthquake in Hamilton before.

We drove back to Whanganui without coming upon any damage. Wellington seems to have sustained the most damage on the north island.

We’ve also received messages of concern about tsunamis in our area, which are possible, but rare.

Research published this year documents evidence of three or four large tsunamis hitting the east coast of New Zealand in the last 1,200 years. The Whanganui District redistributed tsunami warning maps right after the quake. Our house is in the “yellow zone,” which is the third tier of severity if a substantial tsunami were to hit. Fortunately for us, the house 200 feet further upstream of the Whanganui River is outside of any warning zones. So, we’re right on the edge of current damage data.

There are two tsunami sirens that are set to go off in the neighborhoods closest to the ocean. We’re about two miles from the nearest siren location, so I don’t know if we’d hear it. But we’re also far enough inland that our chances of imminent danger are low.

According to the Whanganui District’s website, “the most tsunami-prone areas in New Zealand are between East Cape and Napier, the Cook Strait area, the area around Banks Peninsula and the East Coast of the South Island.”

None of those locations is very near us. The District does have record of tsunamis in Whanganui in 1868 and 1922. So, maybe we’re due. (Just kidding, moms.)

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