We had the opportunity to speak with a filmmaker named Logan McMillan who lived through the February 22, 2011 earthquake that struck Christchurch, New Zealand.
His eye-opening footage of Christchurch in the immediate aftermath of the quake inspired us to reach out to him to talk with him about his experiences that day.
Reading his answers reminds us of the things we always ask you to do to prepare. Secure your TV? Check. Keep a home emergency kit with plenty of water? Check. Make a plan before an earthquake strikes so meeting up with friends/family is not just pure happenstance? Check. Social media is an excellent way to keep in touch after an earthquake? Check.
TU: Where were you in your home when the February earthquake struck?
Logan: I was on my couch working on my laptop. The shake was so powerful I couldn’t stand up. The noise that comes with the quake is extremely alarming – lots of smashing, building grinding, etc. All the plates and cups in our kitchen smashed on the floor – luckily I had shoes on otherwise it would be difficult to get out without cutting myself. There were several large after shocks after the main quake – within a few minutes time. I decided to wait for a few minutes just as I had to go down 6 flights of stairs and I didn’t want to be caught in the stairwell if a big aftershock hit.
TU: How did you get in touch with the friends you met up with on your post-quake walkabout? Did you have a plan, or was it simply luck?
Logan: It was simply luck that I met up with a friend and eventually my brother – who had come in to try and get me. The cell phone system was overloaded and power was out throughout parts of the city.
TU: Have you done anything to anchor your replacement TV?
Logan: All our TVs are now anchored. But we have lost 2 in 2 quakes….so we are slow learners.
TU: Did you ever lose access to power or water at home?
Logan: Yes the water and power went out. The supermarkets (the ones that were able to open) were stripped of stock quickly. So water was in hot demand.
TU: Your friend was on the phone with someone in your video. Did phone service ever get cut off?
Logan: The system got overloaded – texts took days or hours to arrive, and calls mostly went to answer phone. Facebook was one of the most reliable methods to inform people that you were safe.
The horse has already left the corral for Logan and the citizens of Christchurch. But what about YOU?
No time like the present to prepare for an earthquake if you live in an earthquake country as we do. Our recent work with the folks at SPUR on the “Safe Enough To Stay” project really brought home the idea of surviving an earthquake unhurt and being able to recover and get back to normal.
If you want to see what a post-earthquake apartment and a neighborhood shelter might look like the week after a big earthquake, swing by the SPUR exhibit in San Francisco before April 18th.