Locals worry about their families in NZ

2016-11-16 09:56
A young boy takes advantage of warped road to skateboard on in Paiapoi, NewZealand, following an earthquake a while ago.

A young boy takes advantage of warped road to skateboard on in Paiapoi, NewZealand, following an earthquake a while ago. (File)

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As aftershocks continued to sent New Zealanders scurrying for cover after Sunday’s earthquake, Pietermaritzburg residents were left distraught trying to contact family and friends who live there.

Local resident Rose Chengan said she was very stressed as her husband’s brother and his family lived in Hawera on North Island.

“We know that they are still experiencing aftershocks which have now exceeding 400.

“We hope this passes as my mother-in-law recently arrived in New Zealand for a three-month holiday,” Chengan said.

Several South African expats now living in New Zealand described how they were abruptly awoken by the rumblings of the earthquake and how they rushed for safety on Sunday night. The 7.8 magnitude quake left two dead and thousands stranded. Although many said they were familiar with the rumbling that a pending earthquake makes, this time it was “serious”.

Jill Young, who lives on North Island just outside Wellington, said she had never felt an earthquake this strong before. Young and her family have been living in New Zealand since 1999. “My husband and I jumped out of bed and before I even got to the bedroom door, the violent shaking began,” she said.

Young said she ran to her six-year-old daughter Sophie, who was “beside herself” while her husband woke up their two older daughters.

“We all stood under the door frames, which are supposed to be the safest place during an earthquake. It lasted what seemed like a lifetime,” she said.

After the trembling of the earthquake subsided, Young said she immediately phoned her 83-year-old mother who lives nearby.

She said the civil defence organisation started the tsunami sirens at about 2 am, to call on people who lived near a river or the sea to move to higher ground.

She said South Island had massive devastation and residents of Kaikoura were trapped between landslides.

“Emergency workers and the New Zealand government are now working on how best to get water and food to these people,” she said.

“On the whole we got off very lightly but it highlighted how very unprepared we are if the epicentre was here and all shops were closed. To top it all, we are having horrendous rains and 140km/h winds,” Young said.

Another South African expat, Caitlin Roentgen, said she was asleep and felt the bed shaking, but brushed it off as “we get a few earthquakes a year that aren’t anything serious”. But Roentgen said when she realised it was serious, she grabbed her dog and stood in the bedroom doorway. “My family were all awake and also stood in the doorway.

“It went on for ages and I actually thought this was it … I thought we would end up with nothing,” she said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  earthqaukes

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