The Shaky Isles

Today there was a bit of an earthquake near where I live. Well, it was a bit more than a bit of an earthquake, it came in at 6.6 and was very shallow, so it felt pretty dramatic. But there were no injuries (as far as I know), and the damage was pretty minimal (broken windows, cracked plaster, trashed building interiors – don’t run a coffee shop in Wellington, your crockery will get smashed with irritating regularity). So, it wasn’t a majorly damaging quake, but it was pretty strong, and it had the potential to be pretty scary.

Two and a half years ago, Christchurch had a major earthquake, a slightly smaller one (6.3), but one that caused huge damage and 185 deaths. It was a major disaster, and two years on, Christchurch is still only beginning to rebuild.

The whole country was aware of the Christchurch quake, and we all did what we could to help. It was a terrible thing to happen. We are aware of the devastation, even if we have not experienced it ourselves, and our deepest sympathy was, and is, with the people there.

It was very sad today to see people who had survived the Christchurch quake telling people in Wellington to harden up, that they were being babies, that they had no idea what a quake was, that Christchurch had it so much worse. The lack of empathy was sickening.

We are very aware of Christchurch. We are even more aware that we live on a massive fault line, and that it is very likely that it will rupture in a major way during our lifetime. We look at the devastation of Christchurch and we see what might happen to us, and it’s frightening. So when the earth moves under us, there is not only the average fear of a Wellington quake, there is the visceral terror of becoming Christchurch again.

Don’t try and minimise the fears that people express. Just because you have had it worse, does not mean everyone else can just brush off what’s happening to them. People are allowed to be scared, people are allowed to worry, and your experience does not invalidate theirs.

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