Residents of Christchurch and nearby towns now, perhaps know a little of what it feels like to be in a city in Afghanistan when it's under attack from “Coalition Forces”.
Except no one here is dead and although the ground continues to shake from time to time, we can be fairly confident the worst is over, and we know, of course, that none of this was deliberately planned to kill and destroy. Nevertheless, there must be some similarity in all such disasters, whether “natural” or deliberate.
The sense of fear, confusion and isolation, with the power, phone and water cut off (fortunately none of these things happened in my neighborhood), not knowing the fate of friends and family, not knowing if you have suffered more or less than others.
The varying reactions of panic and calm, “let’s get out of here”, or “let’s go back to bed” (do these things always happen in the middle of the night?).
Then the warnings (ignored) about keeping off the roads, about boiling water for three minutes (does the jug do that?) and not flushing the toilet, because the sewerage system is wrecked. Cooking on the fire, as my parents are doing, or making alternative toilet arrangements as we are.
Seeing the cracks in the chimney, seeing the holes in neighbors roofs, hearing of those injured and wondering if it's safe to sit near it.
And now, learning that the damage is worse than first thought, of the of the central city and Kaiapoi evacuations, of the shelters set up in schools. I’m thinking of all the plumbers and electricians who will be working flat out for the next few days, while many of us aren’t sure what to do.