As I sit to write this post this evening another after shock is rocking my home. At 4.25 this morning we were woken by a roaring sound, followed by an extended period of our house rocking and shaking on its foundations. Amazingly, we suffered no damage – apart from a single vase that broke, and a bottle of balsmic vinegar that fell off the shelf in the pantry. We were indeed fortunate. My elderly parents’ house was like a warzone – I spent near three hours with them cleaning up the broken glass and pottery from across their lounge and kitchen.
What the experience has taught me is the value of community and networks. From the moment the first quake subsided, there was activity in our street as people visited each other’s homes to check that things were OK. A little later in the morning, the phone began ringing as friends from other parts of the country were turning on their TVs and radios and learning of what had happened – then ringing to check that we were OK. Through the day my mobile phone has been receiving texts and emails from all of the country, and overseas, including Melbourne, Hawaii and Scotland. Many I have managed to acknowledge, some I haven’t. All have provided a sense of support beyond my immediate circumstance, and I am very grateful for them.
Today was also the wedding of my niece – months in the planning, with attention to all of the meticulous detail involved in making the day a special occasion. But it was not to be – at least, not in the way it was imagined. Firstly, the columns in the front of the historic church that was to be used collapsed in the quake, rendering it out of bounds. And then the power outage and water cut meant that the breakfast venue and catering couldn’t be used. So… in stepped the community. An alternative venue was found, neighbours pitched in and became the caterers for the day, more neighbours offered cars for the wedding party, friends and family decorated the venue in stunning style, and by the scheduled time for the wedding, it went ahead in style and ceremony that will be remembered for a great many years to come.
As I experience the repeated aftershocks that keep coming, and watch the forecast for severe winds approaching the city tomorrow, I have a feeling that our networks and community will continue to be important. Interesting thing to remember really, that community isn’t just something occurs online within – it’s about real people, with real connections showing support and interest in each-other in real ways.